Forgiving Yourself for Mistakes in 7 Steps

Have you ever had trouble forgiving yourself?  If you’re anything like me, forgiving yourself for past mistakes has been a lifelong struggle!  It’s a REAL struggle sometimes.  

Even now, after working through a lot of personal growth, I still find myself rolling old mistakes over and over again in my mind.  That’s got me wondering- why is it so hard to forgive yourself for mistakes?  Why do most of us struggle to forgive ourselves?  Let’s dive right in and see what we can find out.  Along the way, I’ll share with you 7 steps that I take to forgive myself and move on to a better life!

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What Does it Mean to Forgive Yourself? (H2)

Before we get to the steps, let’s talk about what it means to forgive yourself.  There are several ways to define self-forgiveness, but BetterHelp gives a perfect definition, “Letting go of the feelings and emotions associated with what went wrong.” 

I love how that definition makes it so easy to understand!  When we forgive ourselves, not only are we moving on from the past, but we’re letting go of the feelings and emotions tied to it.  It sounds so freeing, but if only the process could be that simple!

Man praying, woman thinking, wooden sign that says forgive yourself
Learn to forgive yourself and find joy!

Why is Self-Forgiveness so Hard? (H2)

Now that we know what it actually means to forgive ourselves, it’s time to dig in and do the dirty work.  Before tackling the messy process of forgiving yourself, it’s time to admit that it’s going to be a challenge.  

Forgiving yourself for mistakes is HARD!  Like I said before, even though I’ve been working on self-forgiveness for a while now, I still struggle.  Some days are harder than others.  And when I mess up, yet again, the cycle starts over.  Here are 3reasons I’ve found that make forgiving yourself for mistakes difficult.

Self-Forgiveness Means Forgetting the Past (H3)

The first reason forgiving yourself is hard is that you have to forget the past.  Forgetting the past can seem almost impossible!  Our brains are made to remember important events, which is great a lot of the time.  

Think about touching something hot. Your brain converts the pain into a very helpful memory. But, when our emotions get involved, this replay can negatively affect the way we see ourselves.  When we’ve hurt someone in the past, and feel bad about it, not only do we remember the pain we caused them.  We can also convert that memory into negative self-thoughts.  Over time, remembering the past can make it super hard to forgive yourself!

Self-Forgiveness Means Making a Change (H3)

Change is hard because it makes us uncomfortable. None of us like to be uncomfortable, even a little bit.

That’s the second reason self-forgiveness is so dang hard! Since we don’t like being uncomfortable, we don’t like doing the work in order to make changes, even if they are good changes.

Self-Forgiveness Means We Also Need to Forgive Other People (H3)

In order to forgive ourselves, we also need to be willing to forgive other people. 

Think about it. Is there someone out there that’s hurt you in the past, and you’re still holding onto that hurt? It could even be someone who has passed or someone who’s no longer in your life. But the pain they cause you to suffer is still raw. Maybe it’s festering inside of you. Some kinds of hurt are almost impossible to forgive.

It might sound cliche, but if you truly want to forgive yourself for past mistakes, you must be able to forgive others. It’s crucial in the process.

7 Steps to Forgiving Yourself for Mistakes (H2)

So, we talked about what forgiving yourself means and why it’s so hard to do.  Even though you know it’s not going to be easy, I’m sure you still know that you need to forgive yourself for past mistakes.  I’d like to share with you the 7 steps I take each time I need to forgive myself when I mess up.  

Are you ready?  Let’s go!

Admit Your Mistakes In Order to Forgive Yourself (H3)

The first step to take in forgiving yourself for mistakes is to admit them.  Admitting we were wrong is ugly and messy.  No one wants to say their worst mistakes out loud.  But you cannot truly forgive yourself without first admitting your mistakes!

Ask for Forgiveness from Others (H3)

Another crucial step in self-forgiveness is asking for forgiveness.  You need to ask forgiveness from the people you’ve hurt in the past.  If you’re anything like me, when you think of people you need to ask for forgiveness, at least 2-3 people come to mind.  Maybe more.  In order to forgive yourself, you need to make things right with anyone you may have hurt before.

Forgive Yourself by Realizing You’re Only Human (H3)

Sometimes I put some crazy, intense expectations on myself, that no one can possibly keep.  Even though I know I’m being unrealistic, I still find myself expecting too much of myself.  Realizing that I’m only human helps me put my mind right.  

Romans 3:23 reminds us that, “… everyone has sinned…”  So admit that you’re not perfect.  You’re only human, and that’s okay.

Take Time to Grieve Big Mistakes (H3)

Sometimes our mistakes only affect other people.  But they can also have lasting effects on our own lives, too.  A past mistake may have cost you a job opportunity, or maybe it cost you an important relationship.  

Maybe your mistakes have had a terrible impact on your health.  Choosing an unhealthy diet can lead to all sorts of diseases.  Whatever you’ve done wrong, if it’s still affecting your life in a bad way, it’s alright to grieve what has been lost because of your mistakes.

Give Yourself the Same Grace You (Should) Give Others (H3)

In order to forgive yourself, you need to offer the same grace you give other people who have hurt you.  This goes along with realizing you’re human and aren’t perfect.  I’ll say it again… You’re. Not. Perfect!  You’re going to do things wrong, and you’re going to mess up.  Admit it, be prepared for it, and be ready to give yourself grace whenever you need it!

Practice Forgiving Yourself Every Day (H3)

In order to forgive yourself, you might need to make a habit.  One of the best ways to make something a habit is to practice it every day.  I would suggest spending some time every day forgiving yourself for past mistakes.

Some days you may have to spend more time than others.  And since you’re only human, you’ll be adding some new mistakes to the list.  But don’t let that stop you from practicing self-forgiveness.

cloud with forgive written in the middle
Find true forgiveness!!!

Find the Path to True Forgiveness Through Jesus (H3)

Forgiving yourself for mistakes is important for your relationships and mental well-being.  But, there is someone greater who can take on all of your sins, forgive you instantly for them, and give you hope for a new life!  

Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (NLT)  That sounds harsh, but what if there was someone who already shed their blood, and gave their own life, willingly, to forgive your sin?  My friend, Jesus has already done that for you. Jesus is the only one who can truly forgive our sins.  We don’t have to be perfect or do anything but accept this free gift!

Do you have any tips for self-forgiveness?  If so, drop them below in the comments.  Plus, you might want to check out our free Resource Page for all sorts of goodies!

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