We all make mistakes. We all do things we wish we could take back. But the good news is, we can always forgive ourselves. Here are some tips on how to forgive yourself.
Focus on Your Emotions
Your first step is to focus on your emotions.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to understand that forgiving yourself is not just forgetting what you did.
It’s also about recognizing and dealing with the emotions you’re feeling.
There are a lot of different emotions that can come up when you’re trying to forgive yourself.
You may feel guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed.
You may also feel anger, sadness, or anxiety.
All of these emotions are normal and valid.
It’s important to allow yourself to experience these emotions instead of pushing them away.
Trying to push away or ignore your emotions will only make them stronger.
Here are some tips for dealing with difficult emotions:
- Identify your emotions: label them, name them, and put them into words. This can help you to better understand and deal with them.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions: don’t try to push them away or bottle them up. Instead, recognize that they are there and that it’s okay to feel them.
- Talk about your emotions: share your feelings with someone you trust. This can help you to feel supported and less alone in your experience.
- Healthily express your emotions: find an outlet for your emotions that are positive and healthy (for example, journaling, painting, or exercising).
Acknowledge the Mistake Out Loud
It can be hard to forgive yourself when you’ve made a mistake.
You might dwell on what you could have done differently or feel like you’re not good enough.
But beating yourself up won’t change anything — it’ll only make you feel worse.
So how do you move on?
Here are some expert-backed tips to help you forgive yourself:
Acknowledge the mistake out loud.
Saying your mistake out loud (or in writing) can help you come to terms with what happened.
Once you’ve acknowledged it, you can start taking steps to fix it.
Identify your role in the situation.
It’s important to take responsibility for your actions, but that doesn’t mean you’re responsible for everything that went wrong.
Try to figure out what part you played in the situation and what factors were out of your control.
Focus on the present and future.
Mistakes are part of life, but they don’t have to define you.
So instead of dwelling on what happened, focus on what you can do now to make things right.
And don’t forget to give yourself credit for your progress — even if you haven’t reached your goal yet.
Talk to Your Inner Critic
To forgive yourself, you first need to befriend your inner critic.
This is the voice in your head that always finds fault with you and points out your mistakes.
If you’re going to forgive yourself, you need to be able to talk to this part of yourself in a kind and understanding way.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your inner critic says, but you do need to be able to listen to it without getting defensive.
Here are some tips for talking to your inner critic:
- Acknowledge that it’s there. Don’t try to silence your inner critic or pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, recognize that it’s a part of you and try to protect you in its way.
- Thank it for your help. Even though our inner critics can be difficult to deal with, they’re often trying to help us in their way. Thank your inner critic for its concern and gently remind it that you can take care of yourself.
- Be assertive, not aggressive. It’s important to be firm with your inner critic without being too aggressive. Remember, this is a part of you you’re talking to, not an enemy.
- Offer reassurance. Once you’ve been assertive with your inner critic, offer it some reassurance. Tell it that you’re capable of making good decisions and that you’ll be careful not to make the same mistake again.
Notice When You are Being Self-Critical
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start noticing when you are being too self-critical.
It’s easy to go through life not paying attention to our inner dialogue, but it’s worth it to start listening.
If you catch yourself being too self-critical, you can begin to change how you speak to yourself.
Try to be gentle with yourself and don’t criticize yourself for making mistakes.
We all make them – it’s part of being human.
What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes and try not to make the same ones again.
Beating yourself up will only make you feel worse and will unlikely motivate you to do better next time.
Instead of being critical, try speaking kindly to yourself as you would a good friend.
Would you ever dream of speaking to your best friend the way you sometimes speak to yourself?
Of course not!
So why do it?
Be understanding and compassionate with yourself – it will make a difference.
Quiet the Negative Messages
If you’re berating yourself for past mistakes, it’s time to learn how to forgive yourself and move on.
Whatever led you to behave in a way you now regret, realize that everyone makes mistakes.
Beating yourself keeps you stuck in the past and prevents you from enjoying the present.
Here are some tips for how to forgive yourself:
Quiet the Negative Messages
If you constantly replay negative messages in your head, it’s time to stop.
First, accept your mistake and then focus on forgiving yourself.
This will allow you to move on from the past and focus on enjoying the present.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Another way to quiet the negative messages is to stop comparing yourself to others.
Everyone is different and everyone makes different choices.
You are not better or worse than anyone else, so stop comparing yourself.
Instead, accept yourself for who you are and learn from your mistakes.
Focus on Positive Messages
Instead of focusing on negative messages, focus on positive messages.
Tell yourself that you are worthy of forgiveness and can learn from your mistakes.
Fill your head with positive messages to start moving forward with your life.
Show Kindness and Compassion
It can be hard to forgive yourself.
You might feel like you’ve made a mistake that you can’t undo or that you’re not worthy of forgiveness.
But it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes.
So how you deal with your mistakes and whether you learn from them matters.
Here are some things that might help you to forgive yourself:
- Show yourself some kindness and compassion. Be your own best friend. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone else who made the same mistake. Would you be so hard on them? Would you tell them they were worthless? Or would you try to help them see their mistakes differently and encourage them to move on?
- Accept that you are only human. What counts is how we deal with our mistakes and what we learn from them.
- Focus on the present. The past is in the past, and dwelling on it will only worsen things. Forgive yourself for what happened, and focus on the present moment.
- Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are a valuable opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Instead of beating yourself up about your mistake, try to see it as a learning experience. What can you do differently next time? How can you avoid making the same mistake again?
- Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism is an unrealistic goal that will only set you up for disappointment. Instead of striving for perfection, aim for progress – small steps in the right direction are better than nothing!
Seek Professional Help
If you want to learn how to forgive yourself, the first step is to seek professional help.
This is especially true if you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
Talking to a qualified therapist can help you understand your thoughts and feelings and work through them healthily.
If you’re unsure whether therapy is right for you, consider talking to a trusted friend or family member about your experiences.
They may be able to offer some helpful insights or point you in the right direction.
Remember, there’s no shame in seeking help – forgiveness is a journey, and nobody has to do it alone.
When learning how to forgive yourself, one of the most important things you can do is be kind to yourself.
You are human, and you will make mistakes.
What matters is how you learn from your mistakes and move on.
Here are a few final tips for learning how to forgive yourself:
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes. You are not alone.
- Try to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Focus on the present and the future rather than dwelling on the past.
- Talk to someone who can help you process your feelings and healthily work through them.
- Work on developing self-compassion to be more forgiving when you make mistakes.