10 From GEM:
10 Ways To Forgive Yourself
Making mistakes is a reality of human existence. Although you may be quick to forgive others for their mistakes, you might not be so quick to do so with yourself. But, there is no point in carrying around the burden of negativity and shame for lapses in judgment. Yesterday, we talked about “why” you should forgive yourself, which you can read here. Today’s 10 From GEM is the “how.” Keep reading for 10 ways to forgive yourself and move on with life.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU MADE A MISTAKE
No need to put your head in the sand about your missteps. In fact, doing so will only render you incapable of learning from your mistakes. You should definitely recognize them because they are the starting point to moving on. Reflect on what happened, not to shame yourself, but to show yourself what you need to change going forward.
2. KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT YOUR MISTAKE
We sometimes get so wrapped up in our blunders that we give them too much life. Even if you have done a bad thing, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. We are all multifaceted—there are many sides to each one of us. Some are good, some are bad. One moment in time shouldn’t define your life.
3. YOU HAVE FLAWS—ACCEPT THEM
We all have aspects of our personality or character traits that other people would consider flaws. Those flaws are what lead to mistakes in the first place, but we can’t avoid them. We can acknowledge that they exist so that we can take responsibility for them. For example, if you have an angry nature that ends up in arguments with friends and family, that can be very difficult to change. But, accepting your anger can lead you to doing something positive with it, such as seeking justice for societal wrongs.
Read more: Could You Forgive A Same Sex Affair?
4. APOLOGIZE TO OTHERS IF NECESSARY
When your mistakes hurt other people, you must make amends. Start with a sincere apology. They are more likely to forgive you when you speak from the heart and do what you can to make things right. That, in turn, can help you forgive yourself.
Read more: Life Lessons: Jillian Bullock
5. WRITE IT DOWN
Some people need to put their feelings on paper. Writing can help you think about things in a new way and process your errors. You could keep a journal, but if that seems like more work than you want to do, doodle or write down words and phrases that occur to you. No one will see your work and you’re not being graded, so there are no rules or steps to follow.
6. TALK IT OUT
Sometimes it helps to talk to a good friend about your mistake. She might be able to give you a perspective that you don’t already have. Venting once or twice is fine, but if you find yourself replaying your errors on a regular basis with anyone who will listen, you are remaining stuck in the past. Not only that, but you’re also taking a toll on your own physical and emotional health.
7. CREATE A NEW STORY
Your thoughts create your realities. If the story you make up about yourself is that you’re no good or that you can’t be trusted, then you will be no good and untrustworthy. Instead of retelling bad stories about yourself, turn it around and tell the story of when you did something you’re proud of. Tell the story of a time someone put his trust in you and you followed through. It’s so much easier to forgive yourself when you can recognize your value.
8. DON’T DO “COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA”
Doing “coulda, shoulda, woulda,” means that you replay your mistakes over and over, each time inserting the things you could have said or done differently. Doing that doesn’t change the facts and it only serves to promote the myth that you’re a bad person. What happened is what happened. No amount of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” will change it. It’s more productive to start with, “In the future, I will [insert plan of action here].”
9. FORGET WHAT HAPPENED
To explain why you must, in a sense, forget what happened, here’s a quote from Henry Ward Beecher: “I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note—torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” Forgetting your mistake simply means that you have decided to move forward and that you will no longer beat yourself up.
Read more: Ask Rene: My Co-Worker Blabbed My Secret!
10. TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE
Recognize that it may take time to fully forgive yourself. It’s okay to respect the process. You will experience ups and downs along the way. Isn’t that all of life? Be gentle with yourself on your journey. Make a determination to take at least one step every day that helps you become more of who you want to be.
What else would you do to forgive yourself for your mistakes? Share your thoughts below.
More From GEM:
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.