Tag Archives: forgive

How to forgive yourself

We all do things we are not proud of. We wish we could turn back time and change it all. Unfortunately, time travel has not yet been invented (I am still holding out for the future!). Instead, we are stuck with feelings of regret, sadness, and anger that do no one any good. Those feelings won’t fix anything. They just leave you feeling awful about yourself. You need to forgive. 

Forgiving yourself is not an easy thing. You see what you did wrong and it can be hard to look past those moments, those actions. It could be something small or it could be something huge, life-changing, but in order to go on and live a productive, happy, fulfilled life you have to forgive yourself. You have to let go of the past. You have to strive to do better in the future. 

You have to let go of the past

If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, and you are dwelling on the past, here are some tips to help you begin the process: 

1.) Identify the lesson learned — What did you learn from making that mistake? Every moment of regret is a moment to learn from, it is a moment to make positive changes in your life. 

2.) Realize the past is the past — It seems cut and dry, of course, the “past is the past” but it can be hard to come to terms with. Say to yourself you cannot change the past, it is over, what is done is done. Accept it. Look to the future, set positive goals for yourself, strive to not make the same mistake again. 

3.) Give yourself a re-do — So, we have determined you cannot physically go back and change the past but you can think about how you would have done it differently. Write down what you would do if you could go back, and then in the future, you will have that memory to fall back on. 

4.)Change your thinking — Identify your morals and values as they are now. Focus on those and replace your negative thoughts with ones that are in accordance with your current values. 

5.) Do something kind— You may not be able to fix what happened in the past, but you do have control of the now. Make an effort to do something kind for someone else. It will help to boost your self-esteem and show you that you are nowhere near as bad and horrible as you feel like you are. 

6.) Recognize you are doing your best — We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Sometimes the mistakes we feel we made were the result of us doing the very best we thought we could at the moment. Sometimes there are emotions or actions that are affecting the way we react to situations. 

7.) Love yourself — Write down three positive things about yourself. Chances are you are feeling much worse about the person you are than you actually are. Everyone has good in them. Everyone has the ability to be a good person. Recognize the things you have done for others, and the things you are proud of and start loving yourself again. 

If you are still having trouble turning the page on the past, seek help from a licensed mental health professional. They can work with you to identify those positives and help you to dig deep inside and forgive. You deserve to be loved by you. 

The weight of holding a grudge

Holding a grudge is tough work. It weighs you down, it is exhausting, and it is bad for your health. A study done by Hope College researchers found that people who imagined situations in which they had been unforgiving, experienced an increase in physiological symptoms. Those who were holding a grudge had higher heart rates, more sweating, and higher blood pressure than those who had chosen to forgive. 

I have met with several clients who are depressed and angry as they struggle with past experiences.They have become all encompassed in these moments and the unfavorable feelings they have for those that have committed wrongdoing towards them. In some cases, these clients can’t sleep, focus, and they aren’t eating well. They cry all the time and feel lost and unengaged in their current lives. When these same clients were able to find it in themselves to forgive, they felt lighter, happier, and were able to obtain more success in their personal lives.

An obstacle to healing

Holding on to that deep-rooted anger does no one any good. It won’t fix the past or prevent things from happening in the future, it just adds to stress levels. Some of us hold grudges not because we want to stay mad forever, but because we just don’t know how to let go. Grudges come with an identity — you are the victim and you were wronged, and that is part of who you are. In order to let go and forgive, you have to be willing to drop that part of your identity. That can be a hard thing to do. Yes, this bad thing did happen to you by this person but it doesn’t have to become you. You were someone before this bad thing happened, and while you aren’t the same as you were entirely you don’t need to let these experiences define you. And, certainly making yourself sick over it is not helping you.

A grudge becomes an obstacle to healing. You must find some way to accept that the past happened, and move forward—grudges don’t allow for that kind of healing. If you are finding it difficult to let go, it can be helpful to meet with a qualified counselor. They can help you work through those feelings and find the strength to move forward as a happier, healthier you.