Forgiving yourself is tough. Sometimes, it can be even harder than forgiving someone else. While learning to acknowledge errors and move forward can be difficult, the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Knowing how to forgive yourself is important because it fosters a healthy self-esteem and helps you feel comfortable forgiving others, too. Denying forgiveness leaves you stuck in the past and can lead to feeling depressed about former mistakes and anxious about future ones.
Practice the art of forgiveness with these steps so you can dwell in the present and grow in self-worth.
1. Acknowledge your mistake
There is no one who is harder on you than yourself. So often we beat ourselves up over small issues, and even the big mistakes we blow out of proportion. Generally, we spend much more time thinking about our faults than anyone else does.
It shouldn’t be too hard to pinpoint where we feel we messed up. The issue tends to be overthinking our mistakes. However, it is important to acknowledge specifically what the mistakes were so we can move on and find healing.
2. Identify negative thoughts that follow
We all mess up sometimes. While our mistakes can leave us feeling foolish in the moment, if we don’t notice these thoughts they can linger and affect our self-image. In order to actually forgive ourselves it’s important to identify negative self-talk and stop it in its tracks.
While the mistakes we make might be easy to recognize because we can see them play out, the thoughts that result might happen out of habit so they’re harder to notice. These thoughts might be “I knew I couldn’t do it” or “I always make stupid mistakes.” Negative thinking can be even more damaging than our actual errors, so make sure to identify the self-talk that follows and forgive yourself for that, too.
3. Practice positive self-talk
While this step can happen at any point in the process, it flows from identifying and changing negative self-talk. In order to truly reverse harmful thoughts it can be helpful to replace them with positive messages. The next time you make an error, try saying one of the following affirmations to yourself.
- I’m new at this, it will take time to get it right
- I’m usually good at this, it’s OK to have off days
- I’ve made mistakes before and grown from them
- All of the mistakes are proof of my hard work
- This is part of the learning process
- I am brave to keep trying
When you learn to focus on affirmation instead of criticism, you’ll grow in confidence and self-respect and be more prone to lift up others, too.
4. Build a ritual of forgiveness
Learning how to forgive yourself is a healthy habit that becomes easier the more frequently you do it. That’s not to say you should be making mistakes intentionally just for practice, but if you continue to work at it, forgiveness will come more easily.
Many people find healing in writing out their offenses. Discarding the paper afterwards can be especially gratifying (try burying or burning it, just be safe) . Having a visual image of your mistakes being washed away can be a beautiful symbol as you learn to forgive yourself.
Try making it a ritual to say out loud “I forgive myself.” Verbalizing forgiveness and actually hearing it can make it more tangible. Getting the words out can be especially helpful in healing from past wounds.
For many people, forgiveness is a spiritual exercise. If you practice a faith, consider what opportunities are already available for you to take advantage of.
Every error is an opportunity for growth. Life could be defined as the process of making mistakes and growing from them, so don’t waste the opportunity to learn a lesson. Even the smallest mess-up can teach us something as long as we’re looking for chances to make change in the future.
When you find yourself needing forgiveness, consider brainstorming one or two concrete ways you can make amends and improve for the future. Growing through adversity can help you build self-worth and live your life to the fullest.
6. Get support in the process
Learning to forgive yourself can surely heal past wounds, but sometimes we need help in the journey. It can be difficult to process events on our own and therapy or counseling can provide guidance as we navigate understanding and growing from our mistakes.
If getting support in the healing process sounds like something that could benefit you and your mental health, Mazzitti & Sullivan can help. At Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling you’ll feel welcomed and cared for. Take a step towards building your self-worth by calling 800-809-2925 today.