I’ve met a lot of people (and have done this myself) who continue to blame and criticize and not forgive themselves over previous actions. I can certainly understand this when your words or actions have hurt someone else, whether they were intentional or not. In fact I have found quite often that people who unintentionally hurt someone else are much harder on themselves than the person they hurt. It can also be much harder to forgive yourself then it can be to forgive someone else for hurting you.
I know though that it can be, that it IS very hard to forgive yourself. So today I’m passing on some tricks I’ve learned (and used myself) to help you to learn to forgive yourself. When you’re carrying around a sense of blame for something that has happened in the past, this bundle of negativity burrowing deep into yourself can cause a never-ending, pervasive sense of unhappiness. Forgiving yourself is an important act of moving forward and releasing yourself from the past. It’s also a way of protecting your health and general well-being.
Important note: This all pertains to forgiving yourself for things you’ve done to yourself that have hurt you, held you back, affected and effected your relationship with yourself, and created negativity within and about yourself.
The quick tips version:
Life goes on so forgive and forget.
Think about how you have forgiven others in the past. Take the lessons from these experiences and apply them to your own situation; the reassuring aspect of this is that you know you have the ability to forgive, you just need to point that forgiveness in the right direction.
Forgiving yourself and others does not mean that the past is forgotten. It means to forgive, however, the memory does remain. This is the same as the cycle of grief.
Whenever you feel guilt, follow the words of Les Brown, “Forgive yourself for your faults and mistakes and move on.” This will help you whenever you make a mistake.
Your mistakes do not define you. Trust that you are a great person. Think about all the horrendous mistakes normal/good people have done and learned from. Your mistakes aren’t even as bad!
The more stress you hold inside of you, the more damage you do to yourself. Stress can sometimes lead you to releasing your anger out and harm yourself and others around you, but if you forgive yourself the anger will be gone and the bad stuff will be gone. The result is that you are more concentrated and better about the positive instead of the negative.
Get a stress toy. When you start to feel guilty, play with your toy.
The person we are is the result of both good and bad things happening to us in life, as well as the good and bad things we have done. The manner in which we respond to negative events is as important as the way in which we respond to happy events. A person who is inclined to ruminate and make large of a negative event will be more prone to living in anger and resentment and expect future negativity than a person who sees bad things as isolated incidents that don’t impinge on who they are as a whole.
Stay away from people who have a tendency to sabotage efforts at self-improvement. Most of the time these people are focused on salvaging their own insecurities and are threatened by seeing someone else making the effort to overcome negative pressure in their life. Accept that forgiving yourself will sometimes lose certain relationships where your negativity was a source of the other person wielding power over you. Ask yourself if you’d rather continue the unhappy relationship or move on as a whole, and renewed person able to connect with healthier people.
Avoid talking about your wrongdoings and how bad a person you are around other people. You will create this reality in their minds too. Get therapy to get this negative thinking out of your head and back into the Pandora’s Box it came from.
Forgiveness is the hardest quality to shape and yet it is the most essential. In learning about your own ability to forgive both yourself and others, your personal growth will be great, and that’s a reward worth the hard work forgiveness requires of you.
Don’t force yourself to hang around people who bring back the past for you in a negative way; people who push your buttons, devalue or belittle you, and who are thoughtless about your vulnerabilities are best left behind.