We all have those moments where it feels like forgiving ourselves is impossible or wrong. Those moments that randomly show up in your mind and feel very cringe, guilt-filled or sad when you think about them. The weird thing is that we have no problem forgiving others when they fall short, but struggle with forgiving ourselves. Why is that? Well, there’s the common feeling that when we forgive ourselves, it means that we’re not truly sorry for making the mistake. This mentality does nothing but hold us back from truly healing and growing out of our mistakes. Forgiving yourself is important. Not only because you deserve it and you’re human so you’re bound to make mistakes, but also because if you don’t forgive yourself, you risk letting your past mistakes define who you are.
We get that forgiving yourself and moving past your mistakes is uncomfortable, sometimes painful and easier said than done. It requires you to have empathy, kindness, understanding and compassion but it also requires you to accept that forgiveness is a choice. As painful and uncomfortable as it may be, forgiving yourself is one of those things in life that are worth enduring the pain & discomfort for in order to move forward. Here are 4 tips that will help you as you learn to forgive yourself.
1. Disconnect Yourself From Your Mistake
Let’s be real, guilt feels horrible; but like every emotion in the human experience, it has a purpose to serve. Guilt helps you regret the wrong that you do and correct it. While it is useful, wallowing in it does you no good. At some point you need to stop beating yourself up. Instead, acknowledge the purpose it served, and recognize that purpose is not torturing yourself for eternity. Our brains do this thing where they keep reminding us of where we fell short in an attempt to prevent us from making the same mistake and that’s why mistakes feel so overwhelming to us. However, if you haven’t made the mistake again, what’s the point of carrying that burden around? It’s hard to let go but ultimately you have to decide that this is something that happened, not who you are. You need to remind yourself of this as often as you need, and say to yourself in equal measure “I learned my lesson, and I won’t do it again.”
2. Accept The Consequences
Part of forgiving yourself is accepting that every action has a consequence, and so does your mistake. However, the punishment and consequence of your action doesn’t have to weigh on you forever. Let’s say for example you cheated and your partner broke up with you. In this case, the consequence definitely matches the mistake, but you don’t have to label yourself a cheater and you need to accept the consequences without labeling yourself a monster; it means you cheated but not necessarily that you’re a cheater. If you forgot your umbrella on a rainy day and faced the consequence of getting rained on, you don’t go ahead and label yourself stupid of forgetful because of a single instance. Instead, you use this experience as a reminder to always have an extra umbrella in your car or purse. In this same way, use the consequences to your painful mistakes as a path to a fresh start. Start thinking in the lines of “here’s who I was in this situation, who am I going to be in the future?”
3. Ask For Forgiveness
Part of forgiving yourself is letting the other party(ies) involved know that you recognize that you were on the wrong. More often than not, when we do something wrong that we’re struggling to forgive ourselves for, there’s probably another person involved. Part of asking for forgiveness is taking ownership of the part you played. As you do this, be ready for the chance that the other party might not forgive you and that’s okay. This shouldn’t stop you from forgiving yourself. They’re entitled to their feelings just as you’re entitled to stop torturing yourself.
4. Write Your Thoughts Down
Is it really a Natrella post if we don’t talk about writing things down? Journaling is a powerful and sometimes underrated tool in all kinds of healing, but when it comes to self-forgiveness, it’s especially helpful. When struggling with forgiving yourself, write down your thoughts and feelings and examine the reality in them. For instance, you could write down ‘I’m not trustworthy’ then think more into it and ask yourself if you’re really untrustworthy or if you just did one untrustworthy thing that time. Once you realize that there isn’t truth that you’re inherently bad, it becomes easier to give yourself grace for falling short and begin to forgive yourself.
Remember, forgiveness is an important part of the healing process as it allows you to release the guilt, anger, sadness, shame and self-blame you may be experiencing following your mistake. It helps you move on and grow from it. Once you identify how you feel, express it and accept that mistakes are inevitable, it becomes easier to practice forgiving yourself. We hope these tips shed some light on the steps you can take to forgive yourself and we hope you can experience how freeing it is to do so.