Monday, March 8, 2010

Do Selfish People Ever Feel Remorse?

Do selfish people ever really feel remorse? Do they ever realize all the pain and heartache they have caused with their choices?

By definition of the term... selfish person... no... because truly selfish people only think about themselves and not others. But in real life people aren't dictionary definitions. We aren't black and white, but shades of grey.

The underlying question is... does this person think only about themselves and their needs and wants all the time?

In reality we all may go through a period of selfishness... or a time when our actions appear selfish. If we are making excuses, then we are already feeling remorse, as evidenced by the great amount of energy expended in rationalizing our behaviors. We may or may not be willing to talk about our feelings of remorse, but that doesn't mean we don't have them. We may instead focus on denial (of our remorseful feelings) or blame (it's all your fault that this happened and now we feel badly because of you).

Another way to consider it might be... remorse may not necessarily be a feeling with regard to another person, but a feeling regarding an action performed. We may think about ourselves and our needs and wants, but not think highly of ourselves with regard to the choices we have made.

No matter who we are, eventually we reaches a point where our selfish actions overcome any lack of conscience or rationalization mustered. Something happens that will be the straw... that will hit like a bomb shell... and suddenly we are exposed to the truth. It is a moment of great pain. Some folks retreat into denial and blame at that time... some begin to process their actions and make amends. Each person is unique and their reactions and feelings are unique as well.

Yet it can be the beginning of personal growth. We finally see ourselves as we are, not as we wish to be. The blanket of denial is thrown off and we can no longer pretend. The pain may be acute... but the end result is that we become a more aware, balanced person. Capable of forgiveness, compassion and accountability... and isn't that the most important piece of all?


  1. You are so enlightened. I enjoy the posts and I know that you have the experience of dealing with such people, one-on-one or through the hurt that they have caused others. I don't know if the remorse and accountability is attainable if they are willing to blame and fabricate stories to the point that they themselves believe the lies they have created. I hope that the human conscience would kick in someday and let them deal with reality. Not of my concern anymore, I couldn't then and I can't "fix" it now, I can only move on with my dignity.

  2. Thank you for your appreciation. We can only hope that others become enlightened in their own time. In the interim, we live the example.

  3. one can only create pain & heartache by reaction to their actions. By doing so one relinquishes that power to them.

  4. It is a simple exercise of "that person's actions or attitude does not conform to mine, what do I think about it? " instead of "that person makes me angry". It is tough to do because the habit to react is deep. It is like when in a confrontational conversation one hears the word "you" pointed at them - it is interpreted in the mind as here comes... See More the blame again.
    Wishing to be something on a self-honest level is aspirations- a good thing. I think it should be in the order reversed: accountability to one self first, then compassion and forgiveness (for oneself too) so one can move past vexations that limit personal growth. One has to be accountable to oneself for ideas, attitude and actions otherwise one would continue to believe in fate, luck and destiny. When one takes possession and responsibility of their own life one makes all of these on their own.

  5. You are right. Faith or any other aid the will motivate and sustain are good and fine. If I had Bronchitis I'd go to the doctor so when there are behavioral issues why not some other form of assistance? Look at AA and it's programs for the family members of the alcoholic or any other substance abuse program (i.e. Phoenix House); these help one accomplish as a team (Together, Each Achieves the Mission) effort or with support. Any way that works is fine; I guess I'm saying when the means are positive they are justified to reach the positive outcome.

  6. Great comment!! Thanks for that!

  7. All that sounds doable, but the truth is that most folks simply don't have the ability to accomplish these ends on their own. Therefore... faith in a higher power becomes the extra ingredient. The ability to see oneself as part of a larger picturee becomes paramount. We each get beyond the "me" and become part of the "we". That is the secret ... to compassion and forgiveness of both self and others.