Repentance vs. Guilt
reACT or reSPOND?

Repentance leads to positive change but guilt is self-destructive, counter-productive and a waste of time.
Repentance leads to positive change,
but guilt is self-destructive, counter-productive and and a waste of time.

Guilt: feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy
Repentance: sad and humble realization of – and regret for – something you’ve done…

with a resolve to change

There are times when we come face to face with the realization that there’s something in our lives that’s negative or destructive or hurtful to others and/or ourselves. I sometimes refer to that moment as an “ugly look in the mirror.”

What do we do? What are our choices? How do you handle negative feedback (or what I prefer to call developmental feedback)?

1. Denial. Is your knee-jerk reaction to deny it? Defend yourself against it? Explain how it’s not true? or how it’s justified? Do you dismiss the feedback as irrelevant because nobody understands?

That’s a completely normal reaction.

Keep that word in mind for a few minutes: reACTION.

2. Discouragement. Do you shut down? Does negative feedback demoralize you? Demotivate you? Depress you? Does it set you off into a multi-day or multi-week debilitating funk that you feed with negative self-talk and junk food?

That’s a completely normal reaction.

again, keep that word in mind for a few minutes: reACTION.

3. Determination. Does your pride take a hit and trigger the warrior in you to rise up and set out on an exhausting and unsustainable pattern of calculated behaviors in an effort to prove “them” wrong.

That’s a completely normal reaction.

there’s that word again. reACTION.

What if you push the pause button on your reACTION? What if, instead, you reSPOND?

act “a thing done,” from Latin actus “a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion;”

-spond- comes from Latin, where it has the meaning “pledge; promise.”

What if you took some time to process not only the feedback that can trigger these reactions, but to also think through the bigger picture:

Is there ANY truth to the feedback? Even if it was delivered by a non-objective source and wrapped up in acrimonious language, is there ANY truth to it? Can you put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see you as they see you? Is there anything you are doing that contributes to their view of you or the situation?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider asking yourself:

Do I care? Do I feel badly about what I’ve said or done? Do I want the situation to change?

If so, do I reACT in guilt?
Or do I reSPOND with repentance?

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