Have you ever done anything cringe-worthy? Do you have regrets of varying sizes and degrees? These can range from embarrassing to downright shameful and tend to pop back into our minds when we least expect it. That lovely voice that says, “ya, but remember the time when you…” If you’re like me, that voice is very convincing. If I’m not careful, it can lead me into moments of self-loathing and shame spiraling. What I’ve learned is that having compassion for myself in — and compassion for — those moments is much more healing and helpful. So how do we do that? Along with compassion we can begin the process of forgiving ourselves.
Self-forgiveness is the process of accepting responsibility for your mistakes and forgiving yourself for them. Easy peasy? It’s an important part of emotional healing and growth, as it allows us to move on from our mistakes and grow as individuals, but I know for most of us it’s a daunting task.
Self-forgiveness is essential for our mental health and well-being, as it helps us to become more accepting of ourselves and more resilient when facing tough situations. Ultimately, it’s a way to show yourself kindness, build self-esteem, and grow. Something we’d readily give to friends and loved ones, but that becomes sparse when thinking of ourselves. Self-forgiveness raises our compassion barometer so we also end up more forgiving of others.
Forgive yourself; you are not perfect. Show yourself grace; you are still learning. Show yourself patience; you are on a journey. — Shannon Yvette Tanner
5 ways to forgive yourself:
Acknowledge your mistakes and say “I forgive myself.”
Reframe the situation. Instead of focusing on the mistake, think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Think of it as a lesson that will help you become a better version of yourself. Oh, I'm a lifelong learner! Sometimes people or situations catch me wrong and I think, “Wow! I thought I had learned that lesson already.” I guess I needed the reminder. That’s okay too. I then remind myself that “most of the time I am loving and kind” and try to hold onto that instead.
“There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery. From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher” ― Robin Sharma
3. Forgive yourself and move on.
Don’t dwell on the past. Allow yourself to forgive yourself and move on. It is important to move forward and not let the mistake define you. Holding on to the past keeps you from moving forward. We can’t change the past anyway. Maybe we can offer amends somehow, or pay it forward; but not letting it go only causes more suffering.
Here’s a man (Brett Kissel) that knows how to make nice with his past:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY_Xh8aFgXE
4. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and forgiveness. Speak to yourself in a kind and understanding way, just as you would to someone else. Most people have good intentions. They don’t typically wake up with the intention to screw up their day, say something offensive, upset others, or fail. But we all fail at things. We all put our foot in our mouths, or cause a conflict at times. What matters is repairing what we can and learning what we can do differently next time.
5. Practice self-care. Take some time for yourself to do something that brings you joy. This could be taking a walk, reading a book, doing yoga, taking yourself on ‘me-date’ or anything else that helps you feel relaxed and refreshed. You deserve some kindness too. The kinder we are to ourselves, the easier it is to forgive.
“But, Jenn. If I forgive myself, I’m just letting myself off the hook and that’s not okay. I’m afraid I’ll just become a worse person if I’m not hard on myself.” Did I just read your mind? Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean we let ourselves off the hook or grow complacent. Being nice to yourself doesn’t make you ‘soft’ in that way. It actually releases the tension and resistance and helps free you in order to move forward in some way. There is no research to prove that beating ourselves up helps us improve, especially as women. Research has shown that women athletes perform worse when a coach yells at them or is mean versus being encouraging and supportive. And I know plenty of men who had ‘tough guy’ fathers and they swore never to be like them. Softening the blow is our aim. We already did the cringing and felt the guilt and shame of the experience. Now, take a breath and let it out. Put your hand on your chest and say, “That sucked. I didn’t like that. But I still like me and know every day, I can try again. I forgive me.” Love ya!
To work with me on self-forgiveness, book your free 30-minute exploration call HERE.