Forgiving Yourself

Consider taking these steps to forgive yourself


Forgiveness is generally considered an intentional decision to let go of your anger, resentment, and desire for revenge towards someone you believe has wronged you. However, while it might be true that you are quite good at forgiving others, you are less than forgiving when it comes to yourself.


Mistakes are made by everyone, but learning how to learn from them, forgive oneself, and move on leads to better mental health. Explore why self-forgiveness can be beneficial and find out specific steps you can take to become better at forgiving your own mistakes. Explore some of the benefits of self-forgiveness and learn about some steps that may help you become more successful at forgiving your faults.


How to Forgive Yourself

Forgiveness allows us to let go of the things that cannot be brought back. It can move us forward in life without allowing the past to take control of our minds. It is suggested in the self-forgiveness approach that these four steps can help.

The 4 R's of Self-Forgiveness

1. Responsibility

2. Remorse

3. Restoration

4. Renewal


Accept Responsibility

It will help if you avoid negative emotions, such as excessive regret and guilt, by taking responsibility and accepting that you have engaged in actions that hurt others. To forgive yourself is not only about leaving the past behind and moving on. It is about accepting what happened, having compassion for yourself, and then finding the courage to move on. Forgiving yourself is the first step towards self-forgiveness; after facing what you've done or what has happened, it is the most challenging step. Suppose you have been making excuses, rationalizing, or justifying your actions to make them seem acceptable. In that case, it is time to face the fact that you have done something wrong and accept full responsibility for your actions to make things right.


Express Remorse

When you take responsibility for your part in an unpleasant situation, you may feel a range of negative emotions, including guilt and shame. It is natural to feel guilty when you have done something wrong. Such feelings of guilt and remorse can boost positive behavioral changes. Although from one perspective, guilt can imply that one is a good person who has resorted to a wrong action, shame makes someone see themselves as a bad person regardless of their actions. Sometimes when lacking support and understanding feelings of worthlessness can develop, which, left unresolved, can induce addiction, depression, and aggression. Understand that feeling responsible for your mistakes does not make you a bad person, nor is it undermining your intrinsic worth. The idea of being accountable for everything that happens is a very human thing.


Rebuild Trust and Repair the Damage

Making amends is part of earning forgiveness. When you forgive others, they have to show, or at least make, a change in behaviors. In the same way, forgiving yourself is more likely to stick if you feel that you've earned it too. The guilt you may feel cannot be erased, but actions can be taken to show other people that you do care. Apologize if called for and look for ways to make things right for those you have wronged.


Your decision to correct your mistake will benefit you as well as the person you have negatively affected. The only way to ensure that you do not have to wonder whether you could have done more is to fix your mistake.


Focus Renewal

No one is infallible, and everyone makes mistakes and feels regret at some time. Falling into the trap of rumination, self-hate, and even pity can hinder one's self-confidence and self-esteem, lowering how you see your self-worth. Self-forgiveness requires acknowledging the experience is part of your journey. It's essential to understand why you did what you did and change this behavior. What you did wasn't ideal, yet learn from the experience, which can help avoid the same decision making in the future.


Food For Thought

You are not alone in trying to find a way to forgive yourself. Although it can be very challenging enduring all the feelings, working on forgiving yourself does have health benefits. Understanding and forgiving yourself results in a healthier lifestyle and better relationships with others.


© Copyright 2021. Actualization of Self Institute, LLC. & Denise R Dunkley. All rights reserved.

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