Remorse is a heavy baggage.
Remorse can come from two situations; one, when your actions result in unintended consequences; two, when you act in ways that violate your values.
My experience is that the first kind is a bit easier to accept, especially if you recognize that 1) you can’t know or foresee everything, and 2) you are the only thing you can control.
The latter is harder. Given that each of us can only control one thing in life — our own actions — why do we do what we don’t feel good about? Seems illogical and foolish.
Yet I do that every day. EVERY day. I know what I should do, even want to do. I know it’s possible in every single circumstance to choose what I will feel good about. But I don’t. I can’t claim ignorance here. Will power is a finite thing, but why does it take will power to do things I feel good about?
This is a conundrum that I haven’t cracked yet, but I am guessing a mixture of things are at play. Yes, sometimes my moral standards may be too high or rigid. Who cares if I spend every minute of my life doing the “right” thing?
But the bigger factor may just be a self image and what feels normal. Am I used to feeling proud, fulfilled, satisfied, or am I more familiar with rebuke, disgust and self loathing? I’d like to experience more of the former, sure, but my emotional muscle may be underdeveloped if I’m not used to feeling that way. Or I could still be carrying some baggage around the latter. I may be running away from feeling a bigger remorse stuck in me and I may be creating nagging reminders that I need to process that baggage.
My song “Raid” is about remorse and hope for redemption. You can say “I forgive” but true forgiveness can’t come until after you fully feel your remorse. The choral section in the middle of this song is perhaps that transformation in which you travel from dwelling on your past to looking up at your future. Hope is a big word, but you can start by being open to a different possibility.
That it’s possible, for you and me, to feel good about who we are and what we did with our lives.