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“The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.” — Confucius.
Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to let go of feelings of anger, resentment, and retribution toward someone who you believe has wronged you. However, while you may be pretty generous in your ability to forgive others, you may be much harder on yourself.
Forgiving yourself means that you accept your behavior. You accept what has happened, and you are willing to move past it and move on with your life without ruminating over past events that cannot be changed.
Making peace with yourself and moving forward is often easier said than done. Being able to forgive yourself requires empathy, compassion, kindness, and understanding.
Here are 7 tips you can try the next time you want to forgive yourself.
1- It’s okay to feel guilty
When we learn to experience guilty feelings to receive information, we are already healing from our mistakes. The emotion of guilt lets us know that our actions or behaviors conflict with our values and beliefs, and it also helps us repair the damage that might remain thanks to our wrongdoing or accident.
2- Focus on your emotions
One of the first steps in learning how to forgive yourself is to focus on your emotions. Before moving forward, you need to acknowledge and process your feelings. Give yourself permission to recognize and accept the feelings that have been triggered in you.
But, understand the difference between guilt and shame.
Guilt serves a purpose, and shame does not. With regret, you tend to understand exactly what you did wrong, why you made a mistake, and how to repair the situation. There’s nothing left to do, and shame is a bit trickier. With shame, you can feel like you’re underneath a pile-on, with no way to climb out, which is not a helpful way to heal.
3- Admit you messed up
Everyone struggles with admitting they’ve done something terrible, but denial is how people get themselves into even deeper trouble. Often, we use denial to protect ourselves from the negative emotions of shame and guilt. And while it may be more comfortable to believe that we haven’t done anything wrong, ignoring a problem does not make it disappear. At some point, you’re going to have to claim your mistakes for what they are: not your proudest moments, but part of your evolution towards becoming a better person.
4- Identify the mistake and focus on correcting the problem
Analyze the situation and see just exactly what caused the undesired outcome. It could have been a simple typo; it could have been procrastination, it could have been a misunderstanding, it could have been an omission, etc. Whatever the source of the problem, we need to identify it as clearly and thoroughly as possible.
Implement a new system to avoid omissions, determine where our scheduling technique broke down, etc. Ensure that you have implemented a solution that should prevent the same (or a very similar) mistake from recurring. Be proud of this accomplishment –it enables us let go of our disappointment, guilt, frustration, fear, anger, etc.
5- Have a conversation with your inner critic
Journaling can help you understand your inner critic and develop self-compassion. Writing out a “conversation” between you and your inner critic can help you identify thought patterns that are sabotaging your ability to forgive yourself.
You can also use journaling time to make a list of the qualities you like about yourself, including your strengths and skills. This can help boost your self-confidence when you’re feeling down about a mistake you made.
6- Imagine what forgiveness would feel like
One thing we can do is visualize a scene in which we are forgiven. How does your body feel?, What actions would you take? A vivid imagining of how forgiveness would feel, both inside and out, can help true self-forgiveness come to fruition.
Next, write yourself an apology. Include how you offered remorse to others and how you plan to make amends. Ask yourself what you’ll do differently next time, and then, if you like, read what you’ve written out loud.
7- Apologize to anyone you may have hurt
Of course, your first impulse will probably be to mend relationships or trust that’s been breached. The only way to do this correctly is to step fully into your guilt and admit fault.
WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣
Forgive: stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
Forget: fail to remember.
Influence: influence on.
PHRASAL VERBS ✍
Pass over: to ignore a person and give a better job to a younger or less experienced person.
Let somebody off: not to punish someone.
Come back: to return to a place or a conversation topic.
To err is human, to forgive divine: all people commit sins and make mistakes, and God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike (holy) way when they forgive.
Let bygones be bygones: forgive someone for something done (or for a disagreement) and forget about it.
Turn a deaf ear: refuse to listen.