Making peace with the past and forgiving ourselves for a mistake that we did in the past is not easy. Although forgiving ourselves is the only way to let go of the past, it is hard. Forgiveness is a choice, and it requires kindness and understanding to be able to forgive someone or ourselves. If you’ve tried to move on in life and tried to forgive yourself for a past mistake, you’d have ended up being your worst enemy and it must have seemed to you that you were fighting a losing battle. But understanding the right steps to bring yourself out of that rut is extremely necessary.
Why is Self-forgiveness Important?
Self-forgiveness is one of the most difficult aspects of processing your past actions because there’s no other person out there to whom you have to apologise. When your inner self blames you for some mistake and makes you feel guilty every minute of every single day, your mental and physical health will be affected. As a result, you might turn into a bitter person and even start hating your existence.
10 Ways to Forgive Yourself
Figuring out how to forgive yourself for past mistakes and taking the right steps to move on is not as easy. But with a few ways listed out below, you can begin to nudge yourself in the right direction and understand yourself from within.
1. Understand the Need to Love Yourself
When we make mistakes, we often feel disgusted and start hating ourselves. We begin to associate the mistake with who we are, and end up looking at our own identity from the eyes of a hater. But if you want to move ahead in life, you will have to try to reconnect with who you are via psychotherapy or by reaching out to your close friends. Reading a few self-love books can also help.
2. Remind Yourself That it is Natural to Make Mistakes
There is a reason why certain actions are called mistakes. They happen by accident and are not done on purpose. You don’t need to blame yourself if you fall from a bike while learning to ride it. Some things just happen, and they teach you to be careful in the future. So, accept them and move on. Try to let yourself loose and embrace the fact that mistakes do happen. Try and understand the consequences of the mistakes and learn from them.
3. Understand That Being on the Same Page Won’t Change the Story
When the full realization of our mistakes hits us, we hold on to them and tell the story to ourselves over and over again for a long time. Yes, sometimes, we think about the things we could have done so that the mistake wouldn’t have happened, but internally we curse ourselves and in the process stress ourselves. It is crucial to understand that the actions of the past are in the past and there’s no changing them. To move ahead in life and to be happy, you will have to look beyond those mistakes and start living your life.
4. Figure Out Which Mistakes Are Really Big Ones
We all make a lot of mistakes in our lives – from small mistakes to life-changing ones. The only way to forgive yourself for these mistakes is to recognise which mistakes of yours were big enough that caught you off-guard and had a large impact on your life. Figure out which mistakes were really big and focus on those.
5. Work On the Big Mistakes First
Once you have figured out which mistakes are big, try to work on those and fix them. It may not always be possible to reason out these mistakes, especially if they’ve impacted other people or aspects of your life. Therefore, processing such mistakes might require you to step out of your own space, reach out and apologise emphatically to anyone who might have suffered the consequences of your mistakes. Even yourself.
6. Stick to Your Values
We all have an internal moral compass that is created and governed by our childhood and relevant memories. A lot of us already have an inherent understanding of what’s right and wrong. After processing your mistakes, your values and beliefs will help you understand that you are inherently a good person, and these values will also make you do the right things.
7. Do the Best You Can
Mistakes are pretty much defined by actions that we were not prepared for at that moment. They could happen all of a sudden without any warning, or we might have presumed things to go one way only to realise that they don’t. We could even be fully prepared for something only to realise later that we over-estimated our own capabilities. Whatever mistake you made, do realise that it must have happened in the spur of a moment, and you don’t need to keep blaming yourself for that. Do the best you can to make things right, and if you are unable to rectify them, let go.
8. Learn From Your Mistakes
With a good understanding of your mistakes and realignment of your moral compass with your values, this step can help you figure out the entire situation from a sane and calm perspective. Take a notebook and write down how could have avoided that mistake from happening. Although you might not be able to rectify that mistake, you will at least learn from it and won’t repeat that in the future. Let it teach you something good. By learning from your mistake, you will be better prepared to deal with a similar situation in the future and you will also be able to forgive yourself.
9. Remind Yourself That the Mistakes are in the Past
No amount of preparation, self-love, and processing of your mistakes will prepare you for a deja-vu or a sudden spurt of memories that bring you back to those dark times. Facing a similar situation again might make you fearful about committing the same mistake all over again. A vigilant nature is necessary for such situations to help you understand that those actions and mistakes were in the past, and you are a better person now.
10. Let Your Morals and Values be Your Guiding Light
When you deal with stressful situations, try to bring yourself back to life by thinking about your morals and values. Even if you do end up repeating the mistake, your morals and values will prevent you from falling back into the circle of self-hatred and guilt and prepare you to tackle the consequences smartly. Your morals and values are all that define you and your actions.
The very act of forgiving oneself is in the interest of self-preservation, but it is not easy. While a lot of internal help can help you get over the past, the love and support of family and friends will help you move ahead in life. You will also realise that your life is worth living.