What is the Difference between Regret and Repentance?

Regret and Repentance have a very thin line of difference amongst them. It is very much possible that a person might get confused in figuring out whether his/her act is an act of regret or repentance. Hence, it is important for each of us to understand the difference between these two words very clearly and then implement them in our lives.

Regret, as we all know, is a state where we realize our wrong doings and false acts, which are done either knowingly or unknowingly. Repentance on the other hand also has the same meaning. Here too we understand that we have got into a wrong act or deed. Now the actual difference between these two words arises in the way these two states are dealt with.

Regret is a negative emotion, where one, after having done a wrong deed or after being involved in a wrong act, drowns own self into negative contemplation. The person continuously thinks about his mistakes over and over again, which eventually leaves him with feelings of anger, hatred, depression and even develops suicidal tendencies in him. Instead of learning from his mistakes, the person tends to repeat them again and again.

Repentance is regret handled in a positive way. Here the person, after having behaved wrongly, realizes that he has done a mistake. With that realization, he seeks forgiveness for his mistakes and even takes a stand that he shall not repeat these mistakes again. He tries to introspect over his wrong doings and finds a way in which that situation could have been handled in a better way and starts working on inculcating those learning in his life. He understands completely that his wrong doings has affected his inner values which he wanted to preserve.

Thus from the above definitions we can infer that what we need to inculcate or assimilate in our lives is repentance and not regret. Positivity is an important ingredient of our life and hence repentance is the best way to be positive and learn from our mistakes and move ahead in life. Regret will never give us a solution to our problems but rather add on to them. With repentance, we will start understanding ourselves deeply and work on our attitude for improvement.

How to deal with the feeling of regret?

A person who has mistaken regret for repentance can work on it in the following ways:

  • Talk it out with your closed ones

Speaking out yourself is one of the best ways to understand your own mistakes. When we keep things to ourselves and keep contemplating over them, chances of turning towards a negative direction are very high. Speak out to your closed ones. Let them know your difficulties and problems. Sharing will reduce your problems and not increase them. Especially when you share them with those who can point out your mistakes frankly and help you work on them, it is more beneficial.

  •  Introspect instead of negative contemplation

Introspect over the scenario. Try to think what you could have done so that such a situation of regret could have been avoided. With such an analysis, you will understand the ways in which things can be dealt with. Try to implement these learning in your day-to-day life and make a positive move of moving ahead.

  • Develop an attitude of acceptance

Acceptance is ability in one to accept the situations and happenings in the way they come by. Today you must have done something wrong, then instead of thinking over it for hours, accept it once and take a stand that you do not have to repeat it again. With that, even if feeling of regret enters your mind, it won’t stay for long.

  • Ask for forgiveness and be compassionate

Approach those people with whom you have been rude or have done wrong. This will lessen your burden and motivate you to move on. Be compassionate towards others and even to your own self. Feeling of Compassion for  own self and others will help you work on your mistakes and will give you a fresh start. It helps you to develop an attitude to learn from mistakes and events happening in your life.


Thus I hope we all are clear with what is the difference between regret and repentance. What is left is to implement these values in our lives, work on our negative areas and move on to become a better person. Do post your views and suggestions on this. It will help each of us to learn and understand things more clearly.

Related links:

What is the Meaning of Having a Positive Attitude in Life?

How to Sort out Problems in day-to-day life?


About the Author asknrj

Leave a Comment:

julio says October 10, 2014

I treated my lady wrong I was inconsiderate, selfish and abusive towards her, I am so hurt about what I ve done I want to become a better person and I wish she can forgive me , but I am also stuck in a place where I can’t sleep eat nothing progressive I get shivers thinking about my family that I am losing is this regret or repentance

    asknrj says October 23, 2014

    Hi Julio. Good that you really understand your mistake and are considerate enough to fix it. Also, once you’ve committed a mistake, don’t go much deep into thinking about it. Rather, simply work upon and focus on your present. Find ways to fix it and help yourself overcome it and improve. Mistakes happen in life. But there’s always a scope for improvement. So, for now just ask for forgiveness from your lady and do share your problems and difficulties with her so that even she can help you work upon it.

    Have a good day!

Adejoh peter says September 9, 2015

Hi,i have a friend who took me like her own blood brother and care for me so much but i never know the values of those things she does for me untill i offended her and she decide to leave me all by myself and never do the way she does before.and i have realise my mistake to change and never offend or hurt her again.is a regret or repentance?

    asknrj says November 1, 2015

    Having realised your mistake and having made a resolution to rectify it is good. That’s repentance.

nelson says July 16, 2017

is not that, when one regrets he has no chance to reverse or correct that situation that caused it and with repentence he is left with a chance for a change in the future.

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