Have you ever made a mistake you thought was so bad you couldn’t forgive yourself? So bad your weren’t able to move on and might even got depressed about it? Why are we so hard on ourselves? What’s the “acceptable” time frame that needs to get by before we forgive ourselves or before we are worthy of forgiveness?
I was recently having this conversation with a friend and made me realise that we are such control freaks and always want to know that we are doing the right thing. And we go onto setting unrealistic goals, being way too hard on ourselves and judging ourselves way too much. I find it painful to hear someone saying “I am so stupid or I am such an idiot, I can’t believe I did that”.
It’s like you can’t let go and forgive yourself for snapping, getting into an argument, making a fool of yourself, sending that email with ONE misspell, eating a whole chocolate when all you wanted was a piece (I am guilty of eating a whole tub of ice cream, so I know how you feel!). Of course, there’s the “bigger mistakes”: you didn’t get that well paid job, failed to have a profitable business, said those hurtful words to your partner or your kids, weren’t there for a friend in need, stayed in the wrong relationship for too long etc.
No matter how big or small the mistake is you simply can’t forgive yourself or it takes forever before you do, right? I used to spend months giving myself a hard time for choices I made in the past and just couldn’t let go or had a really hard time forgiving myself. All of this changed when I started to implement the things that I want to share with you today.
In the hope that this can help you too, here’s what I found most useful:
1. Accept yourself and your flaws
Know that the way you are now in your perfectly imperfect shape is right where you’re supposed to be. Making mistakes doesn’t make you less worthy. The things that you consider defects are your unique quirks that make you different, so embrace your crazy quirky ways! Plus, you’re on a path of growth, constantly learning and evolving. Failing is just a natural part of the learning process. If you wouldn’t go through this, it will simply mean that you’re not growing or learning anything new.
I always like to ask myself this question: “If I don’t fully love and accept myself now with my flaws and all, would I love myself in 10, 20, 30 years?” The answer is always NO. Which begs another question: “Are you willing to spend the next 10, 20, 30 years of your life wallowing in self-pity or are you going to choose to grow?” I sure as hell know that I definitely want to grow!
Next time you’re about to kick yourself for a silly mistake you made, I want you to ask this question.
2. Remind yourself that you’re not a bad person
Guilt and shame can make you feel like you’re a bad person. You can do something wrong but it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You need to realise that there’s a huge difference between doing a bad thing and being a bad person. At the time when you did that “bad” thing, you probably had a good reason for acting that way. You maybe thought that was the best choice in that given moment. Even if in retrospect it doesn’t make sense, just let go of any expectations. You didn’t do something bad because you were a bad person there was an intent, a motivation behind it (I always wonder why did I think having a whole ice cream tub would be a good idea. I then remember it felt great whilst binge watching Netflix!)
I guess what I am trying to say is this: Cut yourself some slack 😉
3. Talk about how you feel
It’s always good to share how you fell with close friends, a therapist or someone else who can provide an unbiased opinion or different perspective. When you are upset at yourself emotions can cloud your judgement. A friend or someone qualified for that matter, will offer a different perspective, will maybe point out a solution that didn’t occur to you or might even relate to the same struggle. Most times we just need to hear we are not alone in this. Being reassured that we are a good person can have a massive impact when we’re in that frame of mind.
4. Always do the friend test (this is definitely my favourite!)
Would you talk to a friend in the horrible, hurtful way you talk to yourself? I am pretty sure the answer is NO. Imagine your best friend had done exactly what you did and then came to you for advice. What would you tell them? You would most likely reassure them and tell them not to be so hard on themselves. You would tell them that everyone makes mistakes and they deserve to be forgiven Why can’t you say this to yourself?
Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving someone else because you must live with yourself and your thoughts 24/7. Despite the challenge, emotionally healthy people must have the capacity to forgive themselves when they have made a mistake. Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you’re pretending it never happened. Quite the opposite, you are acknowledging that your actions have consequences. But the consequences don’t need to include self-inflicted negative feelings. If you forgive yourself when you make a mistake, it’s easier to address the consequences of your action in a productive way.
Do you know what the secret to forgiving yourself is?
As Erin Pavlina puts it: Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t let your perceived failure bury you. When you fail or make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up. Raise your vibration, become more resourceful, and ask for help when you need it. Give yourself the forgiveness you so willingly give to others.
YOU ARE WORTHY OF FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself that acknowledges you’re human. You can’t always prevent failure, but you can always forgive yourself for failing.
What’s one thing you just couldn’t forgive yourself for but you can do so today? (pop it in the comments below)
Focus on the good,