Forgiving Yourself Is Possible
Some mistakes in life are harder to move from and forgiving yourself is often the toughest obstacle. While forgiveness is a process and can take time, there are some things you can do to take steps toward providing yourself with grace for your past errors. Here are a few ways to start forgiving yourself.
Know Yourself and What You Value
If you feel shame or guilt over a situation, it could be because your actions conflict with your true beliefs. Inventory your values and morals, as you are right now, to get a better sense of where your feelings may originate. This will help you better understand why you are in pain. Knowing what is important to you will be crucial to forgiveness as well as preventing future problems.
Own Your Mistakes
Being flawed is part of being human. While we spend our lives trying to avoid mistakes, they are often our most valuable learning experiences. Part of forgiving yourself is acknowledging, at least to yourself, that you messed up. Take ownership of the mistake and analyze why it happened. Mistakes are not about being wrong, they are about learning and doing better.
Maya Angelou famously said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Mistakes teach you to know better. Now, it’s up to you to use that knowledge in the future.
Change Your Behavior
Instead of wallowing in your embarrassment over your mistakes, act positively in accordance with your values and beliefs. You may not be able to atone for your past indiscretions, but you can live a life you are proud of moving forward by making sure your choices align with your morals. This will help you move on and forgive the past, giving you more self-confidence as you move forward.
Sometimes, saying the words out loud can be just the release you need to forgive yourself. Whether you need to apologize to yourself or to someone whom you wronged, make the apology, being clear how you accept your role in the problem. If you can’t actually talk to the person you need to apologize to, because they are no longer in your life or for some other reason, write them a letter. Even if you never mail it, putting the words out there can be liberating.
Mistakes Happen. It’s Okay.
Life is all about making mistakes. When you learn to do something for the first time, you mess up. The same is true of all things in life, even how we treat ourselves and others. Give yourself a break and remember you are doing the very best you can. It is not the mistake that is important; it is what you do with your newfound knowledge that matters. Making the same mistake, again and again, may be a reason for concern, but learning and growing are a part of life.
Focus on Loving Yourself
One of the biggest reasons we have trouble forgiving ourselves is we do not have the love and respect for ourselves we should. It is easy to forgive those with whom we have only passing relationships, because we don’t have a lot invested in how they feel. But, you have the most invested in how you think about yourself, which makes forgiveness harder sometimes.
Work on loving yourself more and mercy will come easier. Instead of being your most prominent critic, how about being your strongest advocate? Without self-love and appreciation, forgiveness can be tough, so look inward to find the good inside of you, too.