How Do I Forgive Myself for My Past?

Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2021
how do I forgive myself
Forgiving yourself for the past isn’t always easy. Learn how to forgive yourself and why it’s important for your mental health

Sometimes, we’re our own harshest critics. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and when it comes to making mistakes, we may find it easier to forgive others more easily than ourselves.

If you’ve made mistakes in the past, it can be easy to be overly critical of yourself. Some people feel that they don’t deserve forgiveness and subconsciously beat themselves up as punishment.

Being able to forgive yourself requires effort, humility, compassion, and understanding. And while it’s not always easy, learning how to learn from your mistakes, let go, and move on is important for your mental health.

9 tips for forgiving yourself for the past

  1. Accept responsibility for your mistake. Facing what you have done is the first step toward forgiving yourself. Don’t make excuses or try to justify your actions. Acknowledge where you were wrong.
  2. Don’t suppress your emotions. It’s completely normal and even healthy to feel shame or guilt when you’ve done something wrong. So allow yourself to feel your emotions. Let your feelings out by having a good cry or talking with a trusted friend.
  3. Remember that you’re not perfect. Remind yourself that you are bound to make mistakes, like anyone else. But you are doing the best you can to avoid making the same ones, and that’s all you can ask for.
  4. Embrace mistakes as a learning experience. See this as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Identify where you could have done better and make a plan for how to handle similar situations in the future. This can help give you the confidence that you won’t repeat your mistakes.
  5. Repair the damage. If your actions hurt someone, make amends by apologizing and look for ways you can make up to them. This can give you a sense of peace in knowing that you did the right thing.
  6. Be realistic. As much as you may want to do so, there’s no way to go back in time and undo the past. Accept that you may not be able to completely escape the consequences of your actions. All you can do is use the experience to keep improving and growing.
  7. Be kind to yourself. Don’t allow your inner critic to keep pestering you with negative thoughts and pulling you back into a trap of self-hate or pity. Practice self-love and show some compassion to yourself.
  8. Focus on moving on forward. Holding onto past mistakes does more harm than good. Once you have accepted what you’ve done, taken action to correct any damage you did, let go and focus on taking steps to make better choices in the future.
  9. Seek help if needed. Sometimes, the process of self-forgiveness is difficult to do on your own. Seek help from a family member or close friend, or consider talking to a therapist about how you can break unhealthy behavioral patterns and work on bettering yourself.

What are the benefits of self-forgiveness?

Learning to forgive yourself is crucial to your mental and emotional well-being. It helps you to:

  • Sets you free from anger, guilt, and sadness
  • Use the mistake as an opportunity for emotional growth
  • Achieve peace of mind
  • Avoid anxiety and depression
  • Strengthen your coping skills
  • Be more positive in your relationships
  • Be more productive
  • Sleep better


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Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2021