Learn to forgive yourself!

Often we associate forgiveness with an act that we do unto others forgetting that we also need to forgive ourselves.  In fact, it is of vital importance we forgive ourselves if we wish to live freely, unbound by our past.  We cannot go back and change past events no matter how much we would like to. 

I have met a number of people who act out on their feelings, make errors and bad judgement but forgive themselves and move on. I have met others who spend far too much time going over situations in their mind and beating themselves up about it (not literally!)

Do you often have the following thoughts;

“How could I have done better?”
“How do I look to others?”
“How could I have been so silly?”

It can be difficult to forgive yourself when a decision made months or years ago is still affecting you and your family to this current date.  Each day serves as a reminder of the road you chose which appeared a good idea at the time.

I have always struggled to forgive myself and if I am not cautious I can wander as far back to my teenage years.  I have blamed myself tremendously for the way other treated me when I was too meek and petrified to stand up for myself. At the time I felt helpless but when I became an adult I realised that I could have stopped their actions as people can only do what you allow them to do.  Believe me, this eye opener did not encourage me as it dawned on me that I had an element of power to change my situation but did nothing.

I have had to work through these thoughts with prayer and speaking words of affirmation.

Four tips that I recommend;

1. Remember you are NOT perfect and never will be. You WILL say and do the wrong things from time to time. You are not required to go over and above to make up for your imperfections. 

2. Treat yourself well and others who too are imperfect are likely to follow suit. Make time for yourself to do the activities you enjoy.  A cost does not necessarily have to be involved. 

3. Look at your motives; are there ongoing issues which influence your speaking or acting out of line? However ugly and embarrassing it may be, deal with it by speaking to a family member, friend or counsellor.

4. Learn to love yourself as you are inside and outside.  Write down the qualities you feel and others say you possess. 

So to round up, it is clear that forgiveness of self is essential for one to live with freedom. It is an ongoing process which we should embrace, however unnatural it may seem.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience on this topic. Perhaps you have some advice to offer?

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22 thoughts on “Learn to forgive yourself!”

  1. We try to treat others with respect, but fail when it comes to ourselves. I think self-forgiveness is hard, because when it is someone else, we do not see them all the time. We do with ourselves. What we did, still lives with us 24 hours a day. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I can be the worst offender of not forgiving myself. If I do something that hurts my girlfriend’s feelings, I feel a crushing sense of guilt…sometimes to the point where I feel like I am not meant to be anyone’s boyfriend. It’s rough, but I am starting the process of changing this.

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  3. I go back and forth on how forgiving I am of myself. In some areas, I am a strident task master of myself. That’s the relentless perfectionist in me. Awareness of that trait has enabled me to learn how to step back and breathe and ask myself is it worth putting energy into thinking about this or that to the point of exhaustion? One bit of wisdom that has helped me in all areas of my life is to follow the 80/20 rule. One day a week might be when something goes wrong and I get off track or upset, but that doesn’t mean the next day isn’t a new that that can be started anew.

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  4. Wonderful advice Phoenicia! Like everyone on the planet I’ve made mistakes and there are a few that (looking back) definitely qualify as stupid, but I never spend time thinking about them. The way I choose to look at it is that I’ve learned something from everything that has happened to me – good/bad/stupid – and that has made me who I am today and I’m okay with that.

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  5. I think this is an important point to remember. It is so easy to remember that other people make mistakes and overlook that we also make mistakes ourselves! I think the main thing is to learn from our mistakes to do or become better.

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  6. What a wonderful post and I love your 4 tips, Phoenicia. I was JUST today–seriously–thinking about a decision I made in college and how it affected my life. Truly, until I realized the how and why of it and decided to consciously move on. it’s a tough thing to do.

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  7. Great post on self-forgiveness. It can be so hard sometimes…especially when you really screw up. Letting go of shame is for sure a process. I like your tip to treat yourself well. So simple and you so important.

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  8. Phoenicia, I think this is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when it comes to children. Something negative happens in their lives and you think what you could have done better to prevent this.I have been working on this for years and am mostly successful but still have my moments.

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  9. To forgive yourself is essential in life. You must however ALWAYS ask yourself what you could have done better. If not, you don’t improve yourself which is also essential. People who don’t look at what they themselves have done have a tendency to blame others for what went wrong and they are going to have a miserable life.

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  10. Thank you Phoenicia for sharing this thought provoking article. Forgiving self is an area many of us struggle. We are usually our own greatest critic. I fully agree with the advice given in this post! Just to add to the thought… When we forgive ourselves, our self esteem improves and our self confidence is developed to face challenges that may come our way. Therefore it is truly an area worth working on!

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  11. I’m “old” (a Baby Boomer) and I’ve struggled with this all my life. Even though I’ve been objectively successful, there’s always a little voice telling me I could have/should have been better. My father was a very negative person. He passed away 6 years ago, but sometimes I can still hear his voice and negative comments. If you are younger and have this issue, I urge you to take the advice in this post. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s worth working on. You owe that much to yourself.

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