Remorse Vs Regret And Repentance

Often people use these terms interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the meanings of remorse vs. regret and repentance.

What is Remorse?

Remorse is an emotion that stems from the genuine empathy you feel over the hurt that your actions caused other people. You are more concerned about the pain others feel from your actions than yours. Due to this feeling, you are truly sorry for what you have done and take responsibility for your actions. You are motivated to take action and are willing to make amends.

What is Regret?

Regret is an emotional reaction that arises when you wish you had not done something that you deem incorrect. You typically regret an action when it harms other people. Still, you may also regret it because it hurt you – led you to suffer from an unwanted outcome. It is frequently associated with the guilt you feel from making a mistake or failing to live up to your expectations. You may feel angry, hurt, or sad for yourself, not necessarily the person you hurt with your actions.

What is Repentance?

Repentance is the act of reflecting on your wrong actions and behavior. You feel contrition or remorse for your wrongdoings. It is accompanied by a commitment to actual deeds that demonstrate and bring a positive change. You admit the guilt, intend not to repeat the offense, attempt to make amends for the wrong, or, where possible, reverse the harmful effects of the wrong.

How Does a Person Show Remorse?

Remorse vs. Regret and Repentance

Several behaviors demonstrate when you are full of remorse for your actions. Here are a few signs of true remorse:

You Admit Your Mistakes

When genuinely remorseful for your actions, you apologize for them without trying to justify yourself. You allow yourself to be vulnerable and acknowledge your fault. By doing so, you express how you are ashamed of your behavior and wish to make amends.

You Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Another way to show remorse is by taking responsibility for your actions. You don’t point fingers at other people. In the act, you reflect on what you did and care about it enough to be accountable for what you did. Because of this, you admit your mistake, express remorse, and apologize for it sincerely.

You Apologize for Your Mistake

At times, you offer a sincere apology to the person you hurt when you are genuinely remorseful for your actions. Your confession of your mistake should be honest. If you apologize but don’t change and simply move on, it shows that you are not remorseful and will likely repeat your error. A sincere apology must include the following components:

  • Recognize your mistake or behavior that hurt others.
  • Describe the changes you want to make in this area.
  • Ensure a fundamental shift in the new direction.

You Make Sure Not to Repeat the Mistake

You make an effort not to repeat the same mistake. The starting point for real transformation is making a mistake and learning from it. Making mistakes help you look at areas of your life that you need to work on, thus allowing you to break the pattern and let change.

You Try to Fix the Problem

You make a sincere effort to prevent repeating your error and offer a sincere apology. Still, occasionally you have to correct your wrongdoing. Additionally, you should remedy whatever you can fix. You should have the initiative to solve the issue, not someone you hurt, as this shows genuine remorse.

Empathize with Them

In this case, you feel empathy for the people you hurt and are remorseful for the harm you have caused them. Furthermore, you envision what it would be like for you if they had done you wrong. Empathy entails consideration and the capacity to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Be attentive to their feelings, let them know you are there for them, and appreciate them.

You Communicate With Them

Another sign of being genuinely remorseful is wanting to talk to them about what happened. You’ll want to converse with them about your actions hurting them. Communication will be a top priority because you genuinely want to understand and admit your role. If you do not talk to them after making a mistake, it may indicate that you do not regret what you did. You can demonstrate the meaning of your remorse through communication. Besides, you will communicate with them thoroughly about how you did affect them and how you can change them.

You Learn About Yourself

Making mistakes is essential and can teach you some of life’s most valuable lessons. Remorse alerts you to the need for change in a specific area of your life. According to the researchers, an individual’s mistakes challenge their assumptions about themselves. You realize you made a poor decision or compromised in some way. Mistakes are a type of trial-and-error learning. Unfortunately, your mistakes can impact others, but you will be motivated to learn life-changing lessons if you feel genuine remorse.

Remorse vs. Guilt? What is the Difference?

Many people confuse the words remorse and guilt. However, the two words denote two vastly different emotions.

Guilt is the emotion you experience when you judge yourself for doing something wrong. It arises from the ego mind. You use self-judgment to try to control the outcome of events. You hope that by judging yourself and feeling guilty, you will be able to prevent yourself from repeating the mistake. This never works because behavior changes when you change your intention, not when you judge yourself.

Remorse is the emotion you feel when you truly and deeply regret a decision or the wrongdoing you committed. You know you will never make that decision or take that action again. Remorse arises from the heart. It indicates that you have undergone a significant internal transformation, shifting your intention from controlling to learning.

What Is the Difference Between Remorse and Repentance?

While remorse makes you truly regret and hold yourself accountable for your actions, it is repentance that drives you to take action to change. Repentance is the complete shift in your beliefs, actions, or way of life.

Remorse overtakes you when you do something you know is bad. Remorse can enslave you into feeling depressed and hopeless without action. With the help of repentance, you may make amends and be forgiven if you are prepared to turn around.

You repent when you feel sorry for your actions or behaviors. If you reflect on your past life and feel remorse for some of your actions, you are experiencing repentance. There are no negative emotions when you repent for becoming a better person. You retrospect on past mistakes and search for a better way to avoid making the same mistake in the future. There is a desire to change. Repentance thus makes you a better person. It indicates that you are learning from your mistakes and are willing to change to become a better person.

Does Everyone Feel Regret or Remorse?

People with Narcissistic personality disorder tend to regret their actions but do not have remorse. Narcissists feel sorrow for being caught while hurting someone but remain indifferent to the pain others feel due to their actions.

Due to their inability and unwillingness to understand someone’s pain, they do not learn to take responsibility for their actions. They frequently blame others for their mistakes. The only lesson they learn from being held accountable for their actions is how to avoid being responsible in the future. They do not learn to avoid making the same mistake because, in their minds, they have never made a mistake. As a result, they feel no remorse, no desire for corrective action, and no inclination to repent.

End Note

In conclusion, regret, remorse, and repentance reflect three different states of mind and emotions. Regret only focuses on your personal loss rather than the pain or loss you caused others, and it does not change you. It is about moving on, finishing the punishment, and avoiding it in the future. Remorse is the genuine empathy you feel for others’ suffering due to your action. It motivates you to change and ensures you do not repeat your mistake. Repentance is the actual path down the transformation. Real change occurs when genuine repentance occurs in a person’s heart and mind.


Are remorse and regret the same?

Remorse and regret are not the same. 

Remorse is feeling bad about upsetting or hurting someone else. It is empathy for the pain someone endures due to your actions and feeling guilty about causing them pain.

You feel regret when you wish you hadn’t done or said the hurtful thing you did. This is mainly due to your action having an unfavorable or undesirable outcome. Maybe your actions caused you some financial loss or impacted your social image.

Are remorse and repentance the same?

Remorse is the emotion you feel for hurting others – you empathize with them. It makes you feel genuinely sorry and enables you to take responsibility for what you did.

Repentance arises when you feel deep sorrow for wrongdoing or action that hurt others. It is the act of changing direction to produce a different outcome. You seek to apologize for your actions sincerely. Your changed actions reflect redeemed behavior.

Is remorse a part of the repentance process?

Repentance is the act of making amends. Your actions should line up with your emotions. So, yes, remorse is part of the repentance process. When you do something wrong, you first feel remorse over how your actions hurt someone and are motivated to take action to minimize the pain – you repent.

Are guilt and remorse the same thing?

Guilt is the conflict of emotional feelings that a person experiences after making a mistake or committing a wrongdoing. But feeling guilt is not the same as feeling remorse. A person can be guilty without remorse. Feeling guilt alone does not make you take responsibility for your mistake. Remorse causes discomfort to your conscience and makes you own up to your mistake and the pain it caused others.

Do you have to feel sorry to repent?

It is imperative to feel sorry to repent. Feeling sorrow over the harm you did, the pain you caused someone, or a sin you committed, motivates you to do something about it. You want to lessen the damage and undo the pain, so you embark on the journey of repentance.

What is the difference between remorse and sorry?

Remorse helps you recognize your mistakes and accept responsibility for your actions. It makes you feel guilty and sorry for hurting someone else, which leads to confession and genuine apology.

Do narcissists have remorse?

Narcissists do not feel remorse when they hurt someone. They feel regret for getting caught doing something that inflicted pain on others. In the future, narcissists avoid getting caught hurting others; they do not learn how not to harm others with their actions. They do not consider how their actions made someone feel.

What is Buyer’s Remorse?

The feeling of regret or anxiety that overcomes you when you buy something is called Buyer’s Remorse. It is the mental discomfort that follows a purchase. this feeling can be associated with various factors, including concerns that you did not make the right purchase, the feeling that you wasted your money, the feeling that you are overspending, finding a better deal later, and when the purchase is not what you wanted. It arises due to cognitive dissonance, particularly post-decision dissonance when you have to choose between two similarly attractive but costly investments.

What’s the difference between regret and shame?

Shame does not stem from your having done something wrong or others getting hurt because of your actions. The emotion arises when you worry about how you appear to someone else or yourself. When you feel excessive shame, the sense of appearing bad is so strong and painful that it prevents any other feeling from developing.

Similarly, feeling regret is not concerned with caring about how you hurt someone. You don’t empathize with the people who suffer from your actions. You only care about how it made you suffer and look bad.

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