While taking various actions this month to fulfill my intention to create a “Local Day of Forgiveness” on Saturday, September 27th here in New Jersey, I discovered a gem of an article that I just have to share with you. I found it on author, educator and therapist Dr. Jane Simington’s website.
It’s a beautiful piece on the topic of two feelings closely associated with forgiveness, and the inability to forgive ourselves. These feelings are guilt and regret.
In her article, “A Garden Metaphor: Resolving Guilt and Regret” Jane captures the difference between guilt and regret, both of which reflect a wish that we could change something in the past. She had this to say:
“Looking back at the choices and decisions we have made at an earlier point in life can sometimes lead to feelings of guilt and regret. Guilt and regret are the emotional expressions of the spiritual need for self-forgiveness. Guilt is an expression of things done we wish we had not done. Regret is an expression of things not done we know we should have. These emotions are often articulated in phrases such as “If only…” and “I wish I had…”
Today, on the thirteenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, I think many of us are feeling regret and may not even have identified that as one of the emotions we’re experiencing.
Why would we feel regret about something so clearly not within our control? Because in our fervent wish that we and our loved ones can go about our lives safely and free from fear, there is a part of each of us that imagines maybe we could have – individually or collectively, or through our elected officials – somehow done something to prevent such an awful thing from happening.
It’s not a conscious thought for most of us, but I do believe it’s lurking there under the surface, causing a powerful sense of regret on top of the sorrow, grief and anger we may also be feeling.
Dr. Simington goes on to provide a 4-step process for helping us release feelings of guilt and regret, so we can keep moving forward with purpose and clarity instead of withdrawing.
So, without further ado, I invite you to click HERE to read Jane’s wonderful article in its entirety on her website!
NOTE: Stay tuned for more about the “Local Day of Forgiveness,” which I will be hosting as part of my September 27th half-day workshop: “Letting Go and Living Free: The Fine Art of Forgiveness!” here in Bergen County, New Jersey.