Have you had trouble forgiving yourself for past mistakes? Everyone has things in their past that they’re not proud of, but sometimes it’s difficult to forgive yourself. Maybe you did something terrible to a friend or family member. Maybe you feel guilty about committing a crime. Maybe you made a bad decision and someone got hurt because of it. No matter what you did and what you’re holding onto, it’s important to take the steps to forgive yourself so that you can move on with your life. Guilt can wreak havoc on your life if you let it hang around without addressing it and moving on. Below you’ll learn some steps you can take to help you forgive yourself for past mistakes so that you can have a better quality of life.
6 Steps to Forgive Yourself and Move On from Past Mistakes
- Reflect on what is bothering you. What did you do? What was your role in what happened? What about the situation bothers you the most? You may want to write this out, but it’s perfectly fine to just think about it.
- Imagine a different outcome. If you could go back in time, what would you do different? What would you say differently? How would you correct your mistake? Try to picture it in your mind, concentrate on the details, and fix your mistake.
- Accept that you can’t go back in the past. The exercise above is the closest you can get to going back in the past. To move on, you will need to accept that no matter how much you would like to, you can’t change the past. That doesn’t mean you’re powerless, it’s just a truth that you will have to accept before you move on.
- Try to make amends if there is a way. This doesn’t mean confess your mistake, especially if it will hurt someone, it just means trying to right their wrong if you can. If you wronged a friend, reach out and apologize. If you can make things better for the person you wronged, do something nice for them. This won’t apply to every situation, but if you can do something, do it. If you need help making a decision about this, seek advice from friends, family, or a therapist. Some things are better left alone, and you will have to make a decision on that. You may also choose to do random acts of kindness or community service if your situation prevents making amends directly. If you are religious, praying and asking forgiveness may be something you want to do.
- Start over. Create a new starting point for yourself. You’ve made some mistakes, like everyone else has, and now it’s time to move on. Commit to being a better person. You may want to do something special to make the occasion like start a new journal or buy yourself a special piece of jewelry to remember your new commitment to yourself.
- Remind yourself of your commitment. During low points, you may be tempted to dwell in the past. Remind yourself of your commitment to starting over, and then try to move past it.
Forgiving others is often easier than forgiving yourself. People normally hold themselves to a higher standard than they do others, so the guilt and pain can last for longer when a serious mistake is made. Guilt eats away at happiness and it makes it difficult to enjoy life, so learning to forgive yourself is a must if you want to have a wonderful life. If you take the steps above, you’ll be closer to forgiving yourself and moving on.