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True Remorse

True remorse can lead to true thankfulness.

Remorse can plague us – sometimes off and on throughout our lives.

More than just the consequence

Remorse comes up repeatedly with clients in our clinical practice: A high school student obtained test answers for a final exam (he was caught and expelled); a contractor promised several of his elderly clients to make repairs or build home additions and absconded with their down payments (he served time in the local jail); a disgruntled office worker who felt unappreciated and underpaid stole items from work (she was fired.) But, as you may suspect the most frequently discussed cause of remorse beyond these cases with clients is when anyone knowingly causes harm to another. This includes spreading lies and repeating gossip as well as when a significant other cheats on their mate in some way, such as lying about drinking, drugging, gambling, watching porn, or doing random sex.

True remorse causes angst

However, in the majority of our other client cases where harm to another, especially a friend or family member, was caused, deeper anxiety was experienced – sometimes to a heightened degree. Why? Because these folks realized that they knowingly, purposefully caused pain, hurt, and anguish to someone else, and in doing so they fundamentally changed that relationship negatively.

Stop, learn, forgive, move on

Next is perhaps the most difficult step: Ask for forgiveness; first of yourself and then from the other(s) you hurt. If for some reason it is not possible to ask for forgiveness of those involved (for instance, perhaps the other person passed away or the cause of your remorse is an entity such as a business), imagine that you have been forgiven. Then move on with your life. But where you can reconnect with that person, do so with this simple formula: "I am sorry, I did a bad thing to you; it was wrong; please forgive me."

True remorse = thankfulness

Check out our other Psychology Today blogs to get a fuller appreciation of how to create a more balanced time perspective in your life!

Visit our website,, to view a free 20 minute video—The River of Time; you’ll learn self-soothing techniques as well as how to let go of past negatives, work towards a brighter future, and live in a more compassionate present.

Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory at to discover your personal time perspective.

See The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy "" \o "Psychology Today looks at Psychotherapy" Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword & Sword, 2012, Wiley Publishing); for strategies to reduce stress and improve communication, visit and "