How to Forgive Yourself and Move on

Forgiving ourselves is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves throughout life. It will provide us with peace and will contribute greatly to our emotional balance. In this article we show you how to do it. 

Forgiving yourself is not a simple task: it requires humility, patience, deep compassion, and unconditional love for our being. However, it is essential that we learn to put it into practice if we really want to be at peace with ourselves and with others.

Most of us have made mistakes throughout our lives , because that is part of the life experience. We wish we had acted differently and we thought that if we had a new opportunity, we would do otherwise.

Not knowing how to set limits at work or in a relationship, being excessively submissive or aggressive, acting selfishly or doing something that hurts other people, are examples of situations that can lead us to feel great discomfort in the form of guilt or resentment towards ourselves. 

Is it inappropriate to feel guilt?

Guilt is a basic mechanism of action in our learning. It guides our conscience and imposes limits on us that show us whether our motivations and behaviors are adequate or not. We developed that feeling of healthy guilt around three years of age.

In case of not developing it and not having internalized an ethical and moral code, we can have many difficulties when relating to others. In fact, the absence of guilt is one of the main characteristics of psychopaths .

Thus, feeling guilt when we have acted wrongly is a good indicator. It means that we are aware that we have done something wrong. And that emotion is what can lead us to amend the situation, either by apologizing or by taking another action that resolves the discomfort.

The problem lies when we feel guilty about actions or decisions made in the past , and we let something that has already happened torment us over and over again, entering a vicious circle. That loop does not allow us to fully live in the present and ties us to an unresolved past.

What does it mean to forgive yourself?

Forgiving oneself does not mean justifying inappropriate behavior or stopping feeling remorse . It means that we have to recognize the negative emotions that this generates for us and, even so, decide that they lose strength in our present.

Forgiving is a progressive process, it does not happen all at once , especially if the act to forgive ourselves is complex. There will be people who take years to fully heal their wounds, while others will find it easier.

To forgive ourselves, it is necessary to change our perception of the lived situation.  Therefore, we must give ourselves permission to move forward and overcome what happened, living in the present in peace and opening ourselves to a future without pain.

Forgiving yourself also means overcoming resistance to change , as it is often easier for us to feel guilty than to dare to leave self-criticism and pain behind.

Steps to forgive Yourself

Forgiving ourselves is a process made up of the following stages:

  • Recognize the truth : in order to forgive ourselves, it is necessary to be honest with ourselves. If we have done something wrong, it is better not to deceive ourselves.
  • Take responsibility for what happened : all acts have consequences, so it is much better to be brave and face what it entails.
  • Getting in touch with the deepest feelings that motivated that behavior : knowing what led us to act that way is a good step to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.
  • Open ourselves to feel without judging ourselves : the acceptance of our imperfection will play a key role at this point. Accepting what happened is the basis for healing.
  • Healing emotional wounds : for this it will be necessary to allow self-criticism to open the way to compassion towards ourselves.
  • To love ourselves unconditionally : it means accepting ourselves in our totality, with our gifts and virtues, but also with our defects and errors. In this last phase, loving and forgiving are basically the same.

Ways for forgiving yourself

For practical purposes, there are actions that can help us forgive ourselves more quickly. Let’s see some examples:

  • Apologize. Apologizing is a great step forward if you have hurt someone, whether consciously or unconsciously. Of course, they must be deep and heartfelt apologies . They must also be without expectations, since asking for forgiveness does not mean that the other person forgives us immediately. What it does facilitate is our healing process and maybe the other person’s as well.
  • Share the experience . Explaining our mistakes to someone can help us in the process of releasing guilt. We can, for example, tell a friend who transmits emotional security and accepts us. Another possible solution will be to go to therapy with a specialist to help us manage our emotions.
  • To write. Another very valid option is to explain in a letter everything we would like to say to the other person. This will allow us to order our thoughts and emotions and relieve much of the pain. Depending on the situation, we will decide whether to deliver our writing to the other person or if it is simply part of our healing.
  • Heal our inner child. Meditation is a very powerful tool that can facilitate forgiveness. Entering a state of relaxation and communicating with our wounded inner child , giving him all the security and unconditional love he needs, will help reconcile us to our past.

Final thoughts

As with other types of forgiveness, forgiving yourself is a process. It is a path that we travel in which we leave pain behind to open ourselves to living a present and a future without suffering.

We must learn to accept that in each of the stages of life we ​​proceed according to our degree of consciousness . If in the past we did not act properly, it was possibly because we did not know how to do better.

And it is precisely in the healing process when we realize that we are no longer in the phase where we erred , and that thanks to that mistake we have been able to evolve. This should allow us to move more lightly and compassionately until we are at peace with ourselves.

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