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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ford

Guilt -v-Regret

In the work that I do with my clients I often hear the word 'GUILT'. I know that Guilt along with Shame, Betrayal and Anger are really heavy negative emotions to carry. And I know they are all part of the Human mix, but do we sometimes feel GUILT when it's REGRET?

No-one should ever tell you what you're feeling is wrong. You feel what you feel. If you've ever had someone say to you that you should be feeling sad, or resentful and you don't, you will know how at odds that feels. Or if someone says to you that you should be feeling happy or thrilled and you don't, you will also know that feels at odds too.

I don't want to invalidate anyone's feelings, but over the years I have wondered if we're getting confused.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves the question "Am I feeling Guilt or is it Regret?"

Here are my thoughts: Guilt is felt when you intentionally do something to another person that causes them hurt, sadness or pain. You did something on purpose.

Regret is when you inadvertently cause another person hurt, sadness or pain. If you like regret is more the case of "I wish I had" or "I wish I hadn't." You didn't do something on purpose.

I have listened to many clients sharing their feelings of guilt over not being there with a loved one when they died. And it's heartbreaking. Tragically over the last 12 months this has been the 'norm' for so many people, for so many families.

As part of the Grief Recovery Method I ask the question "Is there anything you wish had been better, different or more?" This is to establish if people feel their 'grief' is incomplete. It also indicates if there is regret.

Many carry these feelings of guilt for years. They wear their 'guilt' like a second skin.

But what if it's regret?

Just a thought....

Photo credit - Gadiel Lazcano - Unsplash

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