Forgive Yourself In Order To Move Forward
We have all made mistakes, we have all done stupid things, we all have a regret or two (maybe more) but in order to move forward and live a joyful life, one must forgive oneself. Many times we find it harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive others. Why do we hold ourselves at a higher standard than others? We must remember, nobody is perfect. Accept your imperfections, you are human.
It is important not only to forgive yourself, but learn from your mistakes. More importantly, if it’s a reoccurring mistake, it is imperative to find out what is triggering you to make the same mistake over and over.
If you don’t forgive yourself, you’ll live in darkness. You cannot become the best version of yourself and carry out God’s plan if you are living in darkness. By forgiving yourself, you take off the sunglasses that darken your view of yourself and your life; you’ll see more clearly and live in the light. In order to love others, you must first love yourself……love heals all wounds over time. Live in love for yourself and others.
The following steps are designed to help you learn to forgive yourself.
- Don’t let your mistake or mistakes define you. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 Even the best laid plans go awry, so forgive yourself so you can get back on the path that will lead you to the good works God needs you to carry out, which, in turn, leads to a joyful, fulfilling life.
- Try to understand WHY you made the mistake in the first place.You must learn from your mistakes or you’re doomed to make them again. Sit in silence and reflect on how the mistake happened. What circumstances lead up to the mistake? What could or should I have done to avoid making the mistake? Was this mistake a “wake-up call” so I didn’t make a more grievous mistake further down the road?
- Consider how your life would be if you don’t forgive yourself. Not only do you allow yourself to remain stuck in the past, but not forgiving yourself takes a huge toll on your emotional and physical health. Inability to forgive is sourced from anger and resentment, two emotions that can wreak havoc with your health. Numerous studies have shown that people stuck in constant anger, worry, fear or guilt are more prone to disease and illness than people who can learn to forgive both themselves and others.
- Forgiving is not forgetting. Obviously you can’t erase your mistakes from your memory. There is a frequent misunderstanding that forgiveness equates to forgetting or condoning. This misunderstanding can lead you to feel that it is not right to forgive yourself. But the truth is by forgiving yourself and learning from your mistake, over time, you will distance yourself from the negative feelings you had connected to the mistake. It’s about leaving aside the resentment and self-inflicted berating that comes with remembering. Once you have forgiven yourself, STOP thinking about it. When it pops in your mind, don’t dwell on it, remind yourself that you’re forgiven and replace that thought with positive thoughts about yourself. Remind yourself that you are a good person and think for a moment about all your good attributes. Focus on the positive.
- Let go of other people’s expectations of you. You cannot please everyone, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by trying to do so. If you are stuck in a self-loathing mindset because of what others have said to you or because they put high expectations on you, forgiving yourself is essential. Nobody has the right to hold you up to higher expectations than you are capable of. Don’t beat yourself up because you “let someone down”. As long as you are doing the best you can, what else can you do? Do what is pleasing to God….in the end, His expectations are all that matter.
- Seek counsel. If you are Catholic go to reconciliation. Talk to the priest. Ask for forgiveness. Find a spiritual counselor to visit once a month. God is loving and forgiving. His grace covers a multitude of blame, guilt, and sin. It is beyond our understanding but it’s the truth. Seek His forgiveness first and you will find it easier to forgive yourself.
- Daily tips to help you through the process of forgiving yourself.
- Meditation – When you begin to meditate, make a commitment to continue for three months. Set aside ten to fifteen minutes each day, and choose a comfortable quite place for your meditation. Take seven to ten deep breaths and think positive thoughts. Visualize yourself in a state of complete happiness. Open your mind to ways to improve yourself and your life. Keep all thoughts positive. Done regularly, meditation will improve your well-being and sense of self.
- Affiirmation – Remind yourself regularly that you are a beautiful and loved human being that deserves happiness. Replace all negative thoughts with positive ones. Zig Ziglar offers a morning and evening “self-talk” card that is free to help you build up your self-esteem. It is available here.
- Journal – Write down your feelings and draw pictures. Maybe you start your journal exploring the negative feelings and thoughts about your mistake, but once you express those feelings and get them “out of your system”, immediately begin to journal and draw all the good things about you and your life. Draw pictures or journal about loved ones in your life. Reflect on the people that depend on you and how by forgiving yourself you will be able to become the best version of yourself which will also improve their lives.
- Atonement – Decide to make a sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness. If you try all of the above steps and still not feel forgiven or feel that you need to do more, create a “sacrifice”. Ask yourself, what is my offering? The offering needs to be something that requires a sacrifice of your time, money or effort. Maybe you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or food bank every week for a month or more, volunteer at a hospital or a women’s shelter. Ask your church where help is needed and make a commitment to be there to help. There are many institutions that need volunteers. Maybe you take a percentage of your income to donate to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities or Wounded Warriors. Do some research and find an area that interests you, then dive in with all your heart and soul. The key is to consciously make that sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness.
- Prayer – Pray every day…..even after you have forgave yourself. Pray for guidance. Pray for mercy. Pray for grace. Pray for wisdom. Pray “Come Holy Spirit to guide me and guard me”. This will bring you closer to God which will give you peace of mind.
I hope you find this article helpful. The world is full of people who suffer. We must not be the bearer of our own suffering. We must be strong for others and to do that we must overcome our mistakes and guilt. Don’t live in the dark, live in the light, for there you will find God.