While forgiving others may be one of the more difficult things we do in life, forgiving yourself is actually much harder for most of us. It is easy to hold onto past mistakes and regrets for years, sometimes even our whole lives, and these negative thoughts can lead to anger and bitterness, in addition to affecting your self-image and relationships with others.
Learning to forgive yourself is an essential life skill and a process that is different for everyone who tries to do it. To be better at forgiving yourself, it is essential to understand why self-forgiveness is so difficult to achieve.
Forgiveness Comes From Love
Forgiveness is so much easier when you really love someone. So, if you are having trouble forgiving yourself, chances are this stems from a lack of self-love. Learning to love yourself and treat yourself in loving ways can be hard, especially if it is not the way you have traditionally thought of yourself. Forgiving yourself starts when you have a trusting relationship with yourself and learn to accept your imperfections.
When you are dealing with other people who have wronged you, and you are unable to forgive, you can cut them out of your life or move on. That’s not possible when the person you need to forgive is yourself. So, the first step in forgiving yourself is learning to love and accept yourself.
Your Brain Makes It Hard to Forget
Your nervous system keeps track of all your mistakes, every time you have wronged someone else or yourself. If your mistake was against someone else, chances are you have feelings of regret or guilt. These feelings lead to limiting beliefs that can change your confidence in your abilities and choices. So, the mistake leads to emotions, which turn into beliefs.
Changing this whole system must go back to dealing with the feelings that are tied to the reason you need to forgive. Releasing the anger, sadness, guilt, or other emotions associated with your past errors tells your nervous system that it’s okay to move on, and you can finally learn to forgive.
You Have to Consider Mistakes as Learning Experiences
Instead of looking at mistakes as things we must forget or surpass, forgiveness can also come when we learn to think of mistakes as just learning experiences. Avoiding errors keeps you from learning from those errors which, in the long run, may not be the best thing for you. An essential part of forgiving yourself is first admitting that you made a mistake, and then looking at the situation as a learner.
What did you learn from this experience, and how have you used what you learned since then? If you keep making the same mistake or type of misstep over and over, perhaps the reason you have trouble forgiving yourself if you have not yet learned the lesson life is trying to teach you. Learning from your past errors is a vital step in personal development as well as forgiving yourself.
Forgiveness Means Letting Go
The problem with forgiveness is it involves something that happened in the past. Once events occur in our lives, they become a part of our identity, a part of who we are moving forward into the future. When you try to let go of past mistakes, you are essentially trying to let go of a part of your past, a part of who you are. And that’s hard to do.
Regrets or mistakes have a way of building up in our minds, of morphing into their own story or becoming so important in our minds, we have a hard time imagining what our lives would be like without them. Instead, you must accept that you did the best you could at that time, and now, you know better, which is why you try not to make the same mistakes. Releasing your connection to this old version of you can help you move on and accept yourself for who you are today.
Forgiveness can be tricky, especially when it is your own self you want to forgive. Understanding why you have such a hard time forgiving can help you find peace and let go of your past errors, allowing you to move forward with a happier heart.