Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 16 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cornelius and Cyprian
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How Can I Deal with the Worst Things I’ve Ever Done? I Can’t Even Talk about Them!

Brittanie Loren Pendleton CC

William McKenna, M.S. - published on 03/15/15

Ask the counselor

Question: How can I take responsibility for my own sinful actions, while still recognizing the mercy and love of God?


Although we are created in the image and likeness of God, we suffer from the effects of Original Sin. Despite our fallen nature, we still have full use of free will, unless that will is inhibited by a serious psychological disorder or another person or circumstance that truly prevents us from acting freely. To be healthy psychologically, a person must be able to accept and be accountable for his or her sins. The difficulty is to find the balance between taking responsibility for our sins while not despairing of our weaknesses.

A good way to understand this balance is through the context of a relationship. It may be easy for a married couple to be able to identify the faults and failings of their spouse, simply due to the intimate nature of their relationship. In a healthy marriage, husband and wife are able to help each other recognize their faults, while at the same time encouraging each other to overcome them. Understanding that we must rely on the forgiveness of another when we have sinned against them, while also always seeking to repair the relationship and grow in virtue, helps us to understand our need both for God’s mercy and our own resolve to do better.

The tendency to look for reasons to blame people and circumstances outside of ourselves is easier and more convenient than simply owning up to the sin. Just look at Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, blaming one another and the snake. However, if we recognize the part we have played in our actions, we see not only the wrong we have done, but also the work needed to repair our relationships, including our relationship with God. While this realization is difficult, it is the only way we can accept the mercy of God. Sinning does not mean that we are a failure, simply that we are human.

As we continue the holy season of Lent, let us try to remember that while God loves us in spite of our sinfulness, that we can grow psychologically and spiritually when we accept and take responsibility for our sins.

Have a practical question related to psychology and faith? Write to

William McKenna, M.S., is a Clinical Extern at the IPS Center for Psychological Services.

FaithPsychologySpiritual Life

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
Mychal Judge
John Burger
The priests of 9/11
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.