We have all done things that we regret, felt guilty, angry or sad about. These emotional reactions, and the experience of regret in general, are not necessarily bad. Instead, it is our response to regret that often causes unnecessary problems - dwelling on guilt and related negative emotions is toxic.
On the other hand, making peace and moving forward is often easier said than done. Being able to forgive yourself requires empathy, compassion, kindness, and understanding. It also requires you to accept that forgiveness is a choice.
Whether you’re trying to work through a minor mistake or one that impacts all areas of your life, the steps you need to take in order to forgive yourself will look and feel the same:
The 4 R's of Self-Forgiveness
Facing what you have done or what has happened is the first step toward self-forgiveness. It's also the hardest step. If you have been making excuses, rationalizing, or justifying your actions in order to make them seem acceptable, it is time to face up and accept what you have done.
Forgiving yourself is more than just putting the past behind you and moving on. It is about accepting what has happened and showing compassion to yourself.
By taking responsibility and accepting that you have engaged in actions that have hurt others, you can avoid excessive regret and guilt.
As a result of taking responsibility, you may experience a range of negative feelings of remorse, including guilt and shame. When you've done something wrong, it's completely normal, even healthy, to feel guilty about it. Take your time to grief and acknowledged your feelings, as these feelings can serve as a springboard towards positive behavior change in the future.
One way to move past your guilt is to take action to rectify your mistakes. Repair the damage and restore trust. Making amends is an important part of forgiveness. Apologize if it is called for and look for ways that you can make it up to whomever you have hurt.
It may seem as if this portion of the process benefits only the person you've harmed, but there's something in it for yourself as well. Fixing your mistake means you'll never have to wonder if you could have done more.
Focus on Renewal
Forgiving yourself often requires finding a way to learn from the experience and grow as a person. To do this, you need to understand why you behaved the way you did and why you feel guilty. What steps can you take to prevent the same behaviors again? Yes, you might have messed up, but it was a learning experience that can help you make better choices in the future.
While guilt implies that you're a good person who did something bad, shame makes you see yourself as a bad person. This can bring up feelings of worthlessness which, left unresolved, can lead to addiction, depression, and aggression. Understand that making mistakes you feel guilty about does not make you a bad person or undermine your intrinsic value.
Health & Relationship Benefits
It is never simple or easy, but working on this form of self-compassion can convey a number of possible health benefits. In addition to reducing stress, depression, and anxiety, self-forgiveness can also have positive effects on your physical health and relationships. Research shows that forgiveness can improve cholesterol levels, reduce bodily pain, and blood pressure, and lower your risk of a heart attack.
Having a compassionate and forgiving attitude toward yourself is also a critical component of successful relationships. Being able to forge close emotional bonds with other people is important, but so is the ability to repair those bonds when they become fraught or damaged.
Lastly, forgiving people who have hurt you can be challenging, but forgiving yourself can be even harder. It is important to remember that learning how to forgive yourself is a long road to a beautiful destination. It takes a lot patience and time but you will get there and it will be worth it.
U Got to Love Yourself
30 Aug 2021