I remember in my twenties reciting a psalm which acknowledges one has sinned and asks G-d for forgiveness. That’s all good and well, but the issue was, which is really an issue I’ve had my whole life, that I had to heal something inside myself—not just ask G-d for forgiveness, but ask myself as well.
It’s a step I’ve often skipped. But with focusing only on feeling guilty for breaking rules, doing something I “shouldn’t” do, there doesn’t come a feeling of real transformation, since healing oneself is necessary before transformation.
And what is healing oneself? Among other things, it’s putting into context one’s sin. What was going on in one’s life? Or what was missing from one’s life that created a backdrop for this sin to occur.
Repentance is not just about feeling guilty. It’s about improving your relationship with yourself as well as improving your relationship with G-d.