S:1023 Distinction: Regret vs. Guilt

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Regret, we can live with. Guilt has a higher cost. What’s the difference? Intention.

As an example, imagine you were really, really tired, knew you were impaired, chose to drive anyway, someone pulled out in front of you and, because you were impaired, you hit and injured them. Since your intention was to try to get away with driving impaired, it’s reasonable to expect you might feel guilt when you later recall the experience.

Now imagine a different scenario, one in which you drove completely fresh and clear-headed, but, through no fault of yours, hit and injured someone. It was simply an accident. When you later recall that experience you may only feel regret because there was no intention to try to ‘get away with’ something.

Regrets will happen. Life does not unfold in a smooth, linear, predictable fashion. You’ll probably make some false starts, wrong turns, bad guesses, have missed opportunities, bad timing, and unexpected outcomes. Some of which may result in experiencing regrets.

Guilt is a heavy burden. You may or may not ever resolve it.

Regret you can learn from, make different choices, and move on.


Coaching Point: Are you always aware of your intention?


Copyright 2015 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.