Guilt tells you what you are, Regret is a message to act upon.
A murder makes “a murderer” – the identity is a life-sentence.
See also: adulterer, thief, liar – identities are easy to acquire!
(Why don’t we have a pejorative word for a capitalist who takes excessive profits from millions of people? I don’t think “Captains of Industry” quite captures it.)
Punishment endorses guilt – but at least punishment ends, guilt lurks like nuclear waste.
Punishment demeans the punisher and the punished, and does not repair the original damage.
Regret is the virtuous wish to undo what you did… to repair its effects upon others, and upon your own mind, because minds make habits. Demonstrate to yourself and to others that you are not the identity your act could imply. Realign with virtue.
Regret is a positive response to a mistaken strategy.
Remorse is feeling the tragedy of your mistake:
of infecting others with your suffering, and flouting the values you hold highest.
Apology – request to restore trust.
Remorse > regret > reconsider > realign > repair > restore respect > rejoice!