Repentance is a feeling that causes discomfort in the subject, and occurs when the subject is aware that he has done something wrong and that prompts him to act to correct the situation and reduce the bad feelings.
There are also different types of repentance depending on the cause. We will talk about repentance. Understanding its characteristics is essential to properly manage this feeling and the emotions associated with it. So in this article we will see what kinds of repentance there are and how to deal with this feeling.
What is repentance?
Repentance is the feeling of discomfort that arises when a subject is aware that they have done something wrong. Recognition can relate to the performance or omission of an action, as well as an inappropriate thought. It is important to emphasize that the subject feels responsible for the facts, feeling bad about them.
Thus, the discomfort is due to wrongful behavior committed in the past for which the individual now feels guilty. On the other hand, The word repentance is believed to mean “change of mind” in the sense that we can change the way we look at things. or the situation and thus be able to realize that we are not doing the right thing. This change of perspective is linked at the same time to a change of behavior, if the subject is conscious and does not like how he acts, he will try to correct his evil and will not repeat it again.
As we have seen, repentance is something that causes us discomfort and stems from something we would not have done or would have preferred to do differently. However, this one this is the most direct way to learn not to repeat these actions to avoid negative emotions against these errors.
The concept of repentance appears in different religions related to sinthat is to say, it is a question of acting against a divine law. So, the different religions claim that we have to repent of our sins and change the course of our life, that is, take a completely different path, guided by God. On the other hand, the existentialist current conceives repentance as a need or a desire to go back to remedy, to change, an action where we act against our principles or our beliefs.
Another area where the term repentance appears is in criminal law.; when the culprit accepts the crime, confesses and is a collaborator, he receives special treatment, being more benevolent towards him and condemning him to the minimum sentence. The final intention that shows remorse in criminal matters is to obtain a confession from the subject and to receive new information that may help in the case.
Finally, in the field of neurology, which is responsible for the study of the brain, using the technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (which is used to study the functioning of the brain), it has been observed that the regions most more involved and show more activity when the subject The orbitofrontal cortex, which is related to decision-making, the anterior cingulate gyrus, which is part of the limbic system related to emotions, and the hippocampus, which is the main region related in memory, are regrettable.
Differences Between Remorse and Repentance
Although sometimes if the differences are not known these terms can be used interchangeably, they really are not synonymous and one must learn to distinguish them to know when it is appropriate to use each one.
In case of remorse, the individual feels bad for what he has done, but does nothing to remedy it; instead, in the case of repentance, it is not enough to feel bad for what we have done or failed to do, but we will try to resolve the situation, in other words, it will take making a change to consider that the subject is really sorry.
The main types of repentance
Now that we know repentance is understood, it is easier to understand that everyone will experience this feeling or discomfort at some point since we don’t always act the way we should or what would be more appropriate. Of course, there are probably people who don’t confess to repentance because they are unaware that they have done something wrong, which as we said is an important point in showing that feeling. So let’s see what types of repentance there are.
1. Repent for indecision
Repentance through indecision refers to the negative feelings that arise when we pass up a good opportunity.. In this particular case, we speak of inaction, that is to say that the subject loses a good opportunity for not having acted, out of fear or for another cause. Thus, the individual will feel remorse for not engaging in the relevant behavior and for missing the opportunity.
This kind of remorse was about saying ‘no’ when what we really wanted was to say ‘yes’. This time, taking risks, as long as they are under control, leads to less discomfort.
2. Repent for having been able to do better
In this type of repentance the subject feels bad for not having given 100% or for having been able to do better.. In this case, the thoughts are typical: “I could have been a better friend”, “I could have been a better wife/husband”, or “I could have been a better mother/father”. According to the definition of this lament, it is common for it to appear when the subject is older and sees his imminent death.
This repentance is common because people tend to compare themselves and want to be the best in the different roles we play. Additionally, there is also a tendency to self-evaluate negatively and compare oneself to a perfection that does not exist. That way, there will always be something we could have done better that we could feel sorry for.
3. Moral repentance
Moral repentance, as its name suggests, discomfort is related to an act or lack of act that goes against what is morally right or morally correct.. This kind of repentance makes us feel bad for hurting another person, whether it’s because we lied to them, we took advantage of them, we cheated on them, among other things. Behaviors that go against our goodness as people, related to meanness.
4. Relational repentance
Relationship or connection regret occurs when the subject feels bad about having lost or damaged a relationship with a loved one., with someone who was important to him; that is, it is usually due to estrangement from close relatives or friends.
As is evident throughout our lives, we will drift away or lose a relationship with certain subjects, a fact that in the long term can lead to bad feelings for not having done the right thing or not having cared enough about the relationship.
How do you deal with repentance?
So, as we mentioned before, repentance is a feeling that we all experience at some point, which is why it is useful to know how we can deal with it and try to alleviate the discomfort. In the face of regret, the correct answer, and one that is really functional, is to make a change and try to correct the situation, even if it is true that it will not always be possible to make the change.
In this way, we must first assess whether an action can be taken to change the situation or not, that is, whether the door is minimally open or completely closed. All is not always lost and sometimes we may change our decision or conduct.
For example, we may put ourselves forward as candidates for a job we previously abandoned, we may try to reestablish the relationship with the person we lost contact with, and we may try to correct our misconduct that harms another person.
Repentance is a normal feeling that can act as an activator to improve our state or situation. Feeling remorse in adulthood, when this feeling should already be developed, is a sign of good mental health. On the contrary, the absence could be linked to some kind of psychological pathology.
Too, we can use this discomfort as a way to resolve the situation, not to make a mistake or miss an opportunity in the future. May the memory of this feeling help us to reflect and know how to act in the face of new situations that may arise. Sometimes it takes a little courage to achieve our goals and achieve wellness.
- Gilovich, T., Husted, V. and Kahneman, D. (1998) Varieties of Regret: A Debate and Partial Resolution. Psychological review.
- Zeelenberg, M., van Dijk, E., vanden Bos, K. and Pieters, R. (2002) The inaction effect in the psychology of regret. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
- Nicolle, L. (2010) The role of regret and responsibility in decision making. University College London.