Have you forgiven yourself for your past mistakes? Or are you still holding onto what you wish you’d done differently?
Living in a constant state of guilt is tormenting. Your mind replays what you did wrong and how things could have been different. It leads to self-sabotage and negative self-talk. You can believe that you are not good enough for certain positive experiences because you weren’t able to change what happened. We may overcompensate to fix the issue but the thoughts still linger in our mind about how we messed up.
Guilt takes away our ability to practice self-compassion. You may end up using harsh words towards yourself as a form of punishment. Inflicting pain onto others somehow justifies ill-treatment towards ourselves to even the plain field.
At some point in our life, we might do something that causes harm (intentionally or unintentionally) to others. Having to deal with the reality that our actions have contributed to someone else’s pain is a hard pill to swallow. Forgiving oneself is a practice of self-preservation, kindness, compassion, and love. It’s a commitment that despite your mistakes, you will not give up on yourself.
The guilt arises when our actions are out of alignment with our values. If you value being kind, honest and respectful to others, being deceitful and malicious created an internal conflict. We know better but chose not to at that moment. Carrying guilt stops you from practicing self-redemption. We all can change, even when our actions are seen as ‘unforgivable’ in society’s standards.
Often the thing that we don’t forgive ourselves for, we would forgive others doing the same thing. Be willing to offer yourself the same level of compassion that you would to a friend. If you believe you have changed, you don’t need to hold yourself hostage to mistakes that were committed by an old version of you. If you had known what you knew now, you wouldn’t have done what you did- you made choices in the past at the level consciousness you had at the time. You know better now. Be willing to see this situation differently. Your mistakes have given you clarity about the type of person you want to be and the situations you will avoid next time. Some life lessons are harsh but necessary to become a better version of ourselves.
How to Forgive Yourself:
Be honest with yourself
What situation do you hold guilt about? Have an honest conversation with yourself about what you feel guilty/ shame about and how it makes you feel.
Admit your messed up
Self-acceptance is a practice of self-love. You need to accept that you messed up and take full accountability for that situation.
Check if you are missing something. Did you know everything about a situation at hand or was you not in the mind frame to comprehend the harm you caused? Was fear one of the reasons why you made the decision you did? Offer yourself some compassion for not knowing what you know now.
Apologise to anyone who you hurt
Take a risk and contact the person you hurt and apologise. Tell them exactly what actions you take accountability for and why. However, don’t hold onto the expectation that they will be forgiving. Give the person space to express their feelings and don’t go on the defensive. If you are struggling with forgiving yourself for allowing someone else to inflict pain onto you, maybe write an ‘I’m sorry for’ letter to yourself.
Write yourself an apology
Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself.
Give yourself time
It’s okay to feel guilty for what you did. When a situation happens it’s difficult to move on especially if it’s life-altering. Give yourself the time and space to let go of the past. Start by being more present every day and reminding yourself of why you deserve to self-forgiveness.
Quotes of Self Forgiveness:
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know until you lived through it. Honour your path. Trust your journey. Learn, grow, evolve, become.” – unknown.
“Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight”- Judy Belmont
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives”- unknown
You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. – Louise L. Hay
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” — Maya Angelou
“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.” – C. S. Lewis