The Scarlet Letters – G.S.R. – Guilt.Shame.Regret

by Mimi on May 14, 2014






Welcome to Self-LOVE Boot Camp aka How To Have A LOVE Affair with Yourself

(A weekly series of treasures, tips, tools and tidbits for the adventure.)

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

#6. The Scarlet Letters:  G.S.R.  Guilt not. Shame not. Regret not. (aka Gun Shot Residue)

Guilt, shame and regret are probably the heaviest emotions to carry. Like cement shoes, they weigh us down, hold us under, compromise our bodies and rob us of our life-force.

Through self-love you will learn to have infinite compassion for the parts of you that have carried around any measure of guilt, shame or regret, and in the process you will let them go for good. These three emotions are self-inflicted wounds that have no place in a healthy relationship…with ourselves or with others. They add fuel to our inner bully and prevent forgiveness and personal growth. They are the proverbial thorn in our side, tearing away our true power and ability to find the gifts in all our experiences.

Guilt, shame and regret contaminate our sense of ourselves and keep us from moving on. That’s why I call them G.S.R. – gun shot residue. They are sticky, invisible and hard to wipe off. Also, we believe they are hard and fast evidence of some imagined wrongdoing or unforgivable sin. As a result they have become forms of self-punishment and atonement. And, because they are so pervasive, we accept them as normal when in fact they are eating us alive.

In my experience there are very few who haven’t experienced guilt, shame or regret at some point in their lives. To me, it’s not so important that you’ve ‘been there’, but critical that you’ve gotten to ‘done that.’ In other words, you’ve moved through them and beyond. Let me explain…

Guilt and shame are often mistaken for one another and can go hand in hand although they are quite different. Brenee Brown sums them up most beautifully. “The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between ‘I am bad’ and ‘I did something bad.’”

In other words shame is always about ‘who I am’ and guilt is always about ‘what I did’.  For years I mixed the two up, thinking I was feeling guilt when I was really feeling shame. In actuality, the shame of being me fed my guilt whenever I thought I’d screwed up (which was all the time) making it a vicious and suffocating cycle.

For those suffering at all from an absence of self-love, shame is our internal scarlet letter, a negative brand that has the power to dim our light. There is absolutely nothing positive about shame.  It keeps us locked away from ourselves, and in turn, from others. Shame is a trap!

Guilt, on the other hand, can be a positive force for change, but in the hands of shame becomes her whip and her hair shirt. Instead of using it as a vehicle for healing and learning and then letting it go, it becomes chronic and we carry it like a cross we have to bear.

Regret is woulda, coulda, shoulda on redial. It is an endless cycle of re-feeling what might have been but wasn’t. It is hindsight gone askew. It is a constant churning of the past, what we wish we could have done differently or something we wish we didn’t do. Regret contaminates our ability to be fully in the present, and as seriously, compromises our physical bodies with its emotional erosion.

Together, or alone, guilt, shame and regret are thieves perpetually robbing us of our inner gold which is the power to change, the capacity to thrive and our willingness to be vulnerable which is where we discover true beauty and connection.

But there is good news – very good news: Self-love is the antidote for guilt, shame and regret. Here are the top ten things it will help you remember…


  • 1.    You are human and everything about you is a gift. Be yourself. Let your light shine.
  • 2.    You are here to learn and one of the ways you do that is by making mistakes. Embrace them, get the message and move on.
  • 3.    Forgive yourself for everything and then forgive yourself again. Compassion for others is directly relational to that which you have for yourself. It all begins with you.
  • 4.    You are not your story! Discover the treasure and then rewrite it.
  • 5.    There is always something to be grateful for right NOW! So name something!
  • 6.    Look for the good; it is everywhere.
  • 7.    Happiness is an inside job.
  • 8.    Your heart knows more than your head. Think with it. Follow the love.
  • 9.    You only have the present so enjoy the journey. Go with the flow. See the beauty.
  • 10. You’re not here to please others. That’s impossible, but you are here to be the love you are and that’s easy!


I look forward to hearing your stories about how you finally let go of guilt, shame and regret. And, if you liked this post, please share the LOVE on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

XXOO – Don’t forget to LOVE yourself today!

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