Guilt pangs to Regretful Spiral…

It’s quite common to make mistakes and feel bad about them. The trouble starts when one is unable to get over the bad feelings. This inability to overcome arises when one feels guilty about the causes leading to unwanted effect(s).

It’s the beginning of vicious spiral to oblivion, egged on by regret. The reason is simple. Persistent guilty feeling leads to regret. Its like rubbing the salt of guilt on the wound called mistake. In other words, if mistake is injury, then guilt is like adding insult to it.

The equation is :Mistake to the power Guilt equals regret.

Here’s how it pans out. There are 5 tendencies causing one stuck in guilty spiral.

👉 Guilt feeds on brooding over one’s feelings. This quickly evolves into a story one tells oneself about what shouldn’t have happened. After all the mind needs a hook to expand further. And it latches on to the trigger you’ve given to it!

👉 The brooding doesn’t necessarily stop with the stories. It makes one focus on one’s follies using a magnifying lens called overthinking. This lens clinically and critically analyzes one’s own contributions to the mistake that happened. This breeds tendency to blame oneself for all the things which went wrong. It makes one ignore others’ contributions that could have significantly affected the undesirable outcome.

👉As the brooding gradually becomes a habit, it makes one only find fault with oneself. This has a ripple effect of ignoring any good things that one’s rightly done. This leads to denting one’s self confidence over time, painting a negative self-image with low self-esteem.

👉The negative self-image so cultivated makes one extrapolate one’s response to similar situations in future. In other words, one brands self as a typical failure in dealing with such situations. This breeds more guilt and spawns regretful outcomes, typecasting oneself in negative paradigm.

👉As the negative paradigm grows deeper roots in one’s consciousness, the regretful spiral becomes more pronounced. The side effect of this is one unwilling to learn any lessons and take corrective actions to rectify similar mistakes in future.

As one can see, the spiral grows very much with one losing control over self. This is like a steep fall from high altitude during which one only is a mere spectator bemoaning the potential catastrophe imminent anytime.

So, what’s the way out?

Well, the root cause of all the points discussed till now is one’s inability to accept one’s imperfections. After all, its human to commit mistakes. But its inhumane to beat oneself all ends up.

Therefore, the solution lies in acceptance. And be open to learn from mistakes by taking responsibility.

A good way to get started is by asking right questions. Here’re a few good ones from :

They are reproduced here for quick reference:

  • Have you noticed how the excessive regret affects what you do and say?‌
  • Was it only me or did anything or anyone else contribute to my mistake?‌
  • Was there anything I did right in the situation that I regret so much?‌
  • As a result of this regretful experience, have I changed the way I behave and respond to similar situations?‌
  • Is there anything you can do now that will make any difference about how you think and feel about a situation you regret?

Finding right answers to above questions certainly helps one in taking charge of one’s life!



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Ramana Murthy H V

Ramana Murthy H V

Business Excellence Analyst building futuristic SEVA (Sustainable, Evolutionary, Visionary and Agile) Business Models leveraging self-organizing Systems