“I can’t forgive myself for making that big mistake,”

“I can’t forgive myself for trusting so much and now I have lost everything,”

“I can’t forgive myself for not making peace with him and now he is no more”…and it goes on.

Any of these lines sound familiar to you?

No matter how long ago the issue happened, we still relive it every day as though it just happened, carrying with us the burdens of guilt, disappointments, anger, pain and hurt. One quick question though – How is it that we find it a little bit easier to forgive others but not ourselves? Why do we keep going to the gallows to hold that rope over our necks again and again?

Granted, sometimes forgiving oneself for a wrong especially one that had grave consequences may seem difficult but it is not impossible. These burdens only deter us from living better and making better decisions. Mistakes happen and we learn from them. The fastest way to move on is when we allow forgiveness set in. Constantly punishing ourselves for the mistake, hamper our growth and progress in life.

Here are a few tips on how to learn to forgive yourself and start afresh on a new page:

  • Enough with the self-punishment. Anger and disappointment are two of the most effective ways to keep punishing yourself. Enough already. The mistake has already happened and forgiving yourself doesn’t erase that reality instead, it helps to just let go and move on.
  • Identify your anger source. Agreed, you made a mistake and there were consequences but what exactly is that particular thing you are most disappointed about? Have you ever taken the time to understand this? Sometimes the fear of dealing with the past prevents us from trying to identify this source. You can’t forgive yourself if you are repressing the truth.
  • Present core values. It is possible that some values we hold dear today are in constant conflict with our actions of the past and it comes down to, “if I know then what I know now, I wouldn’t have acted that way.” Your values today act as a guide to help you make better decisions and not guilt trip you.
  • Your past doesn’t define you. You may have made a terrible mistake or series of mistakes but all that is in the past now and in no way defines who you are now as a person. Your past mistakes are exactly where they are -in the past and they should stay there. If you define yourself by them, you would never grow to become better personally, in your career or even in your relationships with others.
  • Mistakes happen. No one is perfect or above errors. It’s important you realize the fact that mistakes happen and we are meant to LEARN from them. Life is like learning to ride a bike; you get to fall a couple of times before you become very good at it. While life may put us in different situations that may not be as easy as learning to ride a bike, the lesson to learn here is we should get up each time we fall.
  • Be humble. Stop playing the defensive. Humbly accept your mistakes and ask forgiveness from whomever you have wronged, including yourself. You deserve to be forgiven.

It is important to remember that improvement is a gradual process. You won’t correct all your mistakes in one day but taking that first step is the most important thing. Gradually, you would get to become the best version of you and life would always be beautiful. Focus on your set new goals and be determined to move on to a better place, never to be pulled down again by the demons of your past.

You got this.

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