The Power and Value of Remorse - Part 1 of 3Jul 31, 2021
Remorse kicks Regret’s ass every time
What I love about remorse is how it differs vastly from regret or guilt and how remorse invites us beyond the self. Remorse calls you into a deep reflection or contemplation without judgement. Regret and guilt are selfish and self-centered, remorse transcends the self. Regret and guilt are an utter waste of energy. Remorse is energy well transformed.
Yes, those are “bold” assertions.
I find it useful to explore the etymology of language. We humans craft meaning “all the time”. Yes — “all the time” is accurate. You are crafting meaning now as you read these words. And that is a different topic to explore.
The meaning humans ascribe to remorse comes from the evolution of Latin during Medieval Europe. It was (and is) a sense of a “separate self” or consciousness of one’s impact on self and others — remorsus conscientiæ. Try saying that 10x fast. In remorse, one is “struck” or “pricked” with a conscious awareness of one’s state of being human.
Remorse is “hard”, regret and guilt are “easy”. In reality, nothing is “hard” or “easy”. To put this in bold ass “street language” — regret and guilt are pansy avoiding moves and lazy ass self-centeredness. Remorse is bold & courageous and can knock you on your ass… in a good way. It invites you into a conscious awareness of the impact you have in Life. Remorse asks you to examine the one who is saying the words and taking the actions. Remorse invites you to see how you separate yourself from Life. All humans could use a good knocking on the ass to see (remember) how they have separated themselves from Life.
Why remorse can be “hard” is because one strikes oneself with remorse. You are the “one” in question, dear human. Or one “pricks one’s conscious” or becomes “moved with compassion”. This “moved with compassion or prick one’s conscience” is beyond the “self”. To “strike with remorse” requires both an object and a subject. In which you, dear human, are both the subject and the object.
The objective you striking the subjective you with… remorse. To what end? To return to wholeness. To integrate or repair your divided-ness. To ease (return) into your centered peace and connectedness with Life. To restore integrity.
Think of remorse as the stuff that fixes your bridge to Life.
Your bridge to Life is falling apart and pieces of it are falling into the river of diminishing and despair. Remorse helps you fix the bridge so you can cross it with ease and safety to the land of flourishing. Heck, remorse builds a shiny new bridge. Regret and guilt chip away at the bridge. They are like contractors you can’t trust to repair what wants or needs repairing. No one wants to cross a bridge and fall into the river of diminishing and despair. Everyone wants to feel the freedom of flourishing.
Remorse is an intentional act and speaks to tuning into your impact on self and others. Remorse is not other directed… it is self-directed in relationship to Life. You in relationship to self, other humans, and the natural world. It’s like a “yes and”, the ultimate “improve move” with Life.
For example, once upon a time, I plunged into remorse to examine my unconscious way of being in intimate relations. Most of my life (into my 40s) I lived unconsciously. I experienced my separateness. I examined the suffering I created in self and the impact of that suffering on others. I don’t feel “bad”… It’s not about “feeling bad”. It’s more deeply felt and is beyond emotion, beyond “guilt”, and beyond “regret”. It’s an essence thing.
To contrast remorse with regret or guilt I’ve crafted some statements and my cheeky responses:
- “Hey, sorry about that” — “Sorry about that?. And what exactly are you sorry about?”
- “Let’s just forget about it and get a beer” — “Way to go to ‘solution mode’ with mood-altering substances <he rolls eyes>”
- “I’m sorry you feel that way.” — “You’re sorry I feel this way? How about feeling sorry for that habitual behavior, how about that!?”
- “Well, you do that too so I felt justified.” — “Mmmm hmm, so what you’re saying is… we are both morons…”
- “You made me angry and I couldn’t help myself.” — “WTF?! How about you help your sorry ass out the door, how about that?!”
Remorsus Conscientiæ sounds like this… “<Sigh>, I behaved like an ass in that relationship such that I became needy, jealous, guarded and controlling. I see now how I formed diminishing beliefs about my past relationship experiences. I see now how I manufactured meaning of an event humans label as ‘being cheated on’. I see how that manufactured meaning led me to devalue relationships and see women as ‘untrustworthy’. I see now how I reacted out of fear, creating my own way of ‘betraying’ others. I don’t want to operate this way. I will restore my sense of worth and value. I will take action to restore wholeness with self and others.”
There is much more to that statement and that is what remorse leads to. No bullshit, regret, or guilt in that statement… all conscious acknowledgment and being “struck”.
End of part 1 — stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 where we explore more nuance in choosing the path of remorsus conscientiæ.
Phillip is someone who finds fascination in the animal that calls itself human. And so he leads a practice that he calls DearHuman.LIFE. Dear Human serves the purpose of writing, podcasting, teaching, coaching, and guiding humans on the nature of being human. So that all humans live in freedom from the constructs to which they enslave themselves and shift to their natural well-being and flourish.
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