I have just discovered that remorse is only painful if you do not accept it. If you feel you have wronged someone, but intellectually dispute that a wrong has take place.
The second mechanism arises as a material social defense; if you truly believe you have done no wrong, then it's much easier to convince your social group not to punish you. At least, that's my just-so story. A similar mechanism is if you don't realize you've done something wrong, and argue heatedly about it...and then realize that they're right. Now you've topped one wrong with a second and the cycle continues.
Ultimately for inner peace, it's much better to simply accept that you have wronged someone, and then to find what that means for you, whether that is apology, redress, or simply a conviction not to repeat your mistakes.
My particular problem seems to be the reverse. The non-acceptance urge in me arises in the community; I find that I often told that I have caused no problems, which would mean I haven't done anything wrong.
(This community is in the abstract sense; there are many discrete and separate examples.)
I'm now almost certain that the community is mistaken; it is blind. I have done something wrong, but there appears to be no one I can even apologize to. In fact, because I often wish to apologize for something that is a habit in the community, I often meet not only resistance, but hostility. But does the fact that I don't have anyone to apologize to mean that I haven't done anything wrong? No, it does not.
Take away? Don't do this. If you're feeling hostile to someone that's apologizing to you, it's probably because you do it but have suppressed your own remorse. Conversely, if you're apologizing and someone reacts negatively, know that they are almost certainly in the wrong. (Not that you shouldn't continue apologizing.)
Here's an especially complicated example:
I've done something wrong. My victim seems to be completely unaware of my action. Further, I've done something else that isn't wrong but they think is wrong in the meantime. I know, (and please, I do really know) that if I try to apologize for the first I'm not going to get it accepted; I'm going to get dinged for the second. They're going to find my apology insincere because of this other 'wrong,' even though they won't even check to see if I agree that it's a wrong.
Twisted? You bet. By the way, if you've never seen this, you're welcome to doubt me and I'll fill you in on the details, and I'll top it off by apologizing to this person for my wrong and seeing what happens. My hypothesis is that they won't accept. They won't explicitly acknowledge my mistake, or they'll bring up my apology only to minimize it, and they will follow up with accusing me of some kind of other wrong.
That is, if they even deign to reply at all. Luckily for me, if I'm wrong, I get a positive interaction out of the deal. It's win-win and I must be a white people.
By the way, while I think that the use of 'you' is justified in these posts, I once saw a similar use in New Scientist that definitely looked very strange, detracting from the articles. Does it reflect badly on me as well, and I'm just blind to it?