Forgiving yourself after making a mistake is an important aspect of personal growth and healing. However, you’ll find that forgiving yourself is often the hardest part to do, especially if you’ve made a mistake that you chose to do, or kept coming back to despite knowing better. Guilt and self-blame can greatly impact our mental health and prevent us from moving forward positively.

Coming to terms with yourself is not about ignoring the consequences of your actions or condoning the mistake, but rather acknowledging what has happened, taking responsibility, and making amends where possible, too. For example, those who may have had active addictions can find themselves in a range of dangerous situations, or they may have caused harm to their friends and families. But it’s important to note that this was an illness, a disease even, and that you shouldn’t internalize this as a black stain on your character forever. It can be hard to admit that to yourself, but doing so is the first step on the path to healing.

In this post, we’ll discuss five steps to help you forgive yourself after making a mistake.

It’s Important To Be Clear About The Mistake

The first thing you need to accept in the self-forgiveness process is acknowledging the mistake you made and understanding its impact on yourself and others. This requires taking responsibility for your actions, recognizing the harm done, and accepting the emotions that come with it. This is hard to do, and it’s why so many people delay it. However, being accountable can give you a feeling of freedom, and confidence, because being accountable actually improves you as a person, it doesn’t denigrate you.

To be successful with this, honesty is key, and it’s important to not deny, minimize, or blame others for the mistake. Acknowledging the mistake and its impact can be challenging, but it’s an essential part of the healing journey – and strangely enough, makes you regard yourself more highly. It takes courage to do this, but doing so can be tremendously rewarding for all involved.

Just Be Kind To Yourself

One of the fundamental aspects of self-forgiveness is showing compassion to yourself. That can sound wishy-washy, like a vague form of do-gooding, but no, this is practical and important. It means being kind, gentle, and understanding with yourself, especially during times when guilt and shame are overwhelming. 

Instead of being critical and harsh with yourself, speak to yourself as you would to a friend who made a mistake. Engage in self-care activities like exercise, meditation, therapy, and do things that bring you joy and peace. You deserve a life and to live, and to find your own happiness despite issues that may have occurred. And remember, the past doesn’t define the present, in fact, the present defines the past as it develops and you, now, get a new perspective on things.

Try Not To Repeat The Mistake

Mistakes aren’t all bad at every single level, because they can also provide valuable opportunities for growth and learning. Take time to reflect on what led to the mistake and how to avoid making the same mistake in the future – there are some people who learn that lesson through foresight, others learn it brutally, and you’re one of the latter as of the moment, but that doesn’t define you forever.

Ask yourself what you have learned from the experience and how you can apply that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. By focusing on the lessons learned, you can view the mistake as a stepping stone towards personal growth and development.

Make Amends Where You Can

Taking action to make amends for the mistake can be a powerful way to forgive yourself and repair any harm done. This may involve apologizing to others, repairing relationships, or taking other steps to rectify the situation.  Note that not everyone will want an apology or to repair ties, and that’s okay, it’s good to earnestly do so and move on.

Sometimes, making amends means making amends to yourself. So for instance, you might put yourself in a sober living program, you may be paying off your bail bonds, or if you’ve gained a lot of weight, very slowly integrated a healthier dietary schedule into your day to day planning.

It can give you a great deal of confidence to see minor improvements like this accruing. Take them one step at a time. Moreover, try not to compare yourself to others, it’s hard to do this when you feel as though you’ve effectively denigrated yourself over time, but restoring who you are doesn’t mean having to use someone else’s success as a measurement.

Making amends can help restore your sense of self-worth and bring closure to the situation. It’s important to approach this step with humility and a willingness to listen and make things right.

It’s Okay To Let Go Of The Past

It’s true that film noir, sad poetry, and introspective novels give us the impression that the past is always here, and will forever catch up with you. But that’s not the truth. People can and do move on from all kinds of negativity, be that a difficult childhood, a bad relationship, or yes, a failing on your part.

Forgiving yourself also means letting go of the past and moving forward. Holding onto guilt and self-blame can prevent us from experiencing joy and happiness in the present. Instead, focus on the present and creating a positive future for yourself. Practice mindfulness, gratitude, and other techniques to help you live in the moment and find peace within yourself. Remember that in order to grow wider and longer branches, a tree has to grow deeper roots to situate itself. Let this process texture you and make you into a more interesting, more careful, more empathetic person. You won’t have been the first, but you’ll be glad for the journey.

With this advice, we hope you can see that mistakes aren’t the end of the world, as long as you can brush that dirt off your shoulder, try to restore the difficulties that have past, and accept yourself. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done, and it’s much easier than repeatedly falling back into the same habitual cycle. We wish you all the luck and goodwill you may need.

main Image credit Pexels – CC0 License