How to forgive yourself: find true peace and rest
Which is the hardest, forgiving yourself or others? I would say forgiving yourself. This is because you live with the thought of it 24/7.
If you have been struggling with self-forgiveness but don’t know how to do it, this is how to forgive yourself.
Sometimes, we screw up so badly that we opt to “punish ourselves” for these sins. Sadly, this punishment through unforgiveness creates this cold chain that holds us fast bound to emotional distress, self-hatred and disdain.
I have a personal experience of this, and I must confess, it is a real struggle to break free. Nevertheless, it is not impossible.
Self-forgiveness is necessary, and we must try as much as possible to work it out with ourselves. This is why.
Why should you forgive yourself?
Self-forgiveness is indispensable for people who want to “live their best lives”.
Come on! Think of it; you are human and won’t stop falling short at some point. Will you let all of them haunt you to death?
Of course, not! But that’s not the only reason you need to forgive yourself.
The following deep reasons will wow you.
- It is vital for your happiness
Self-forgiveness allows you to get rid of all those judgmental statements and free your mind.
I would toil on the bed and cover my ears with the pillow; still, those words followed me. Sometimes, they became louder than the sound of my own breath. Allowing your inner critic has its way with you is not the best.
I constantly heard things like, “how could you have done that?” “You are so selfish,” “you’ve become so inhumane”, “how will you ever pay for all the sins that you have committed?” etc.
It is challenging to be happy when a wrong deed hangs on you like a tail.
There is no way to find peace, not to talk of joy with such words. You need to flush them down now; don’t worry, you will learn how in the subsequent segment.
- It makes you more compassionate
Isn’t it impossible to be rude to yourself and kind to others? Where will the kindness come from?
Self-forgiveness allows you to relieve the pain, accept yourself alongside all your flaws. That way, you will be able to love and forgive others, knowing that they too are humans, and just like you, they can never get it right all the time.
Again, self-forgiveness proves your level of integrity. It allows you to do good to yourself as you do to others.
- You can’t move on without it, literally!
It is impossible to move on when cold heavy chains are holding you bound.
This is the duty of your inner critic. That bitchy thing wraps you up and leaves you to grumble all alone in pain. How unfair!
- If you don’t forgive yourself, those fear-based prophecies will come true
“You can’t make it; you missed your chance; you will never find someone that loved you the way he did”,…
Shut that thing up with self-forgiveness. If not, it will genuinely hinder you from reaching your goals, finding love, or living your dream life, not because you can’t, but because the self-condemnation rips you of all the strength you need to push for them.
Besides, denying yourself forgiveness cuts you off from love; from yourself, family, friends, co-workers and even strangers.
It makes you ask “why are you doing all these for me?” with no intention to believe the genuine answer.
How to forgive yourself for something unforgivable
It’s time for the real deal. Let’s dive in to see the best steps on how to forgive yourself after doing something terrible or unforgivable (if you call it that).
- Take another look at the mistake; this time, clearly
We judge issues based on how we perceive them; this is why we need to ensure that we perceive them rightly.
Looking at a mistake with another eye enables us to find the truth in them. Most times, when we do, we realize that they were not that bad.
To do this, I suggest you write out what really happened (if it won’t take up the entire diary, lol) and underline the places you were hurt. Follow the story again to see the things that make you feel judged.
Could it be that you are trying to be a perfectionist? Who set up these standards for you, and why do you feel compelled to level up with them?
I know that we sometimes set standards to improve ourselves, and it can be very discouraging when we fail. But we can live better and happier if we keep remembering that we are still humans.
We only try to be perfect; perfection is unrealistic!
- Be responsible for them
You need to accept the fact that you messed up real good. I believe that you’ve done this; else, you wouldn’t be looking for how to forgive yourself.
Taking responsibility is not the same thing as beating yourself up for the wrong deed.
To take responsibility means that you look at the mistake in the face and say, “that was bad of me!”
It goes over to you saying, “I created this mess, so I will clean it up or follow the due process to make it better”.
I understand that this can bring up severe feelings of anger and disappointment, but they are natural. However, you should take it easy on yourself and at least congratulate yourself for accepting that you blew it. Sorry!
- Apologize if you hurt someone
Taking responsibility continues with doing what is needed to better the case. If there was someone hurt, you should try to make amends.
Don’t mention; that can be really tough.
Nevertheless, you know, that’s the least you can do when learning how to forgive yourself.
You may never make them forget the pain, but expressing how sorry you are will help you and them in the healing process.
When apologizing, follow the direction given by Dr Hendrisken, the author of How To Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic And Rise Above Social Anxiety. Be open and listen to how they respond, and don’t pressure them to forgive you immediately or ever.
Don’t try to apologize if it would hurt them the more! (I’m sorry for screaming, but I just had to hold you back before it’s too late).
Confessing and apologizing for really hurtful situations when they will do the other party more harm than good should be avoided. This is especially true if it caused them irreparable damages or even the death of a loved one.
Confess to God and let Him help you get closure. After all, closure is an internal shift and must not necessarily come from people’s reactions.
- Grieve the consequences, but be compassionate
Let’s admit it; the consequences of some mistakes can be detrimental. Sometimes, it feels like the devil was just waiting for you to screw it.
What can you do? Grieve, but not to the point of being depressed.
Don’t pretend the consequences are not there or they don’t matter.
They do. The earlier you accept them, the better.
When doing this, you need to be proactive. Take the necessary steps to grieve, and don’t do it longer than you should. It was only a mistake.
- Learn from the mistake
Indeed, there is no need to grieve about something wrong when you do not learn from it. It should encourage you to take a deeper look at the actions and learn what you would have done instead.
You should ask yourself questions like, “why did I feel comfortable doing this at the moment?”
Answering those questions will help you develop a new way to respond if such a situation comes up again.
- Reject the shame
Shame! We heard that word more often than not when we failed a test or couldn’t answer a question correctly in nursery school.
But this isn’t nursery school; this is life. You’ve got to find ways to move on without being “that ashamed” of missing it somewhere.
The primary cause of shame is the “perceived judgment” we get or believe people give about us or the situation. This is not the same thing as guilt.
Guilt is essential, and you should feel guilty for doing something wrong. That shows that you still have a healthy conscience. It will help you to seek forgiveness and amend your ways.
However, shame goes a bit further.
Shame makes us believe that our mistakes are a part of our identity and that people will forever see us in that light.
It changes the phrase from “I made a mistake” to “I am a mistake”.
No! That’s not you.
So, forget the “toxic shame”, hold your head high and walk into that room.
What they think about you doesn’t matter anymore; after all, they, too, have screwed up at one point in their lives.
- Take care of yourself physically and mentally
Guilt has an intense impact on our physical and emotional lives. Emotionally, we may be continually pushed to apologize and make it up to the person involved when we’ve already done that.
Also, our relationships with people can be strained after we’ve suffered shame for too long.
Physically, we may become more anxious and lose focus and concentration. We may also develop headaches from them and perform poorly at school or work.
This is why you need to forgive yourself as soon as possible and reconnect with yourself and others.
Most importantly, you need to learn the right time to stop saying I’m sorry.
Regain your momentum by practicing deep breathing and eating healthy.
- Give yourself time
You were hurt, and maybe someone else was too; so, you need time to heal. As much as you would love to throw the feeling over the fence and wave it bye, it can’t happen overnight.
Feelings can’t be rushed, not yours or any other person’s. So take it one step at a time, and you will be fine.
- Forget the past
You can never move on until you have forgotten the past.
As much as your mind keeps bringing these things to the surface, you need to make a conscious effort to forge them as they come.
I hate to admit it, but I have said some really hurtful words to people, and those words keep recurring in my mind.
Yes, I apologized for them, but I also owe myself that responsibility to forget how much hurt I had caused them.
So, when the thoughts resurface, I say, NO! I bounce and refuse to ruminate (or dwell on it).
You should do that too. Kill the thoughts as they come, and someday (hopefully), they will stop coming back.
- If you can’t forget it, make it a milestone
Some things cannot be forgotten, but we can capitalize on them to build a better future.
As a part of how to forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes and grow. This growth can be something as little as building a new habit or having a novel vision.
This vision can be educating people on how to avoid this mistake and the detrimental backlash they can face if they don’t.
Before taking it to this level, ensure that you are done with the “regrets”.
The world has too many regretting older adults, and we don’t need more.
Learn from them, and share the story of how you overcame it.
How to forgive yourself when you can’t apologize
Sometimes, it could be impossible to apologize when thinking of how to forgive yourself, especially if the person is dead or apologizing will cause them more hurt.
In such a case, you should accept yourself with all your flaws. Accept the fact that you did wrong and that the consequences are painful. However, don’t induce more negative effects for yourself.
You are a good person, remember that and be kind to yourself.
You are a good person with a tender heart. I don’t care what you have done, but looking for “how to forgive yourself” means that you are ready to thrive with that new identity (of being a tender-hearted person).
This journey of self-forgiveness is worth it, though not always easy. But here is my word for you.
In this journey of life, learn, grow, and let go of the hurt.