How To Forgive Yourself
Mental health

How To Forgive Yourself: A Guide to Letting Go of Past Mistakes

Struggling with guilt or shame from past mistakes? Learn the key to finding peace: self-forgiveness. Discover how accepting the past and learning from your errors is the way forward. It's not about ignoring the consequences or justifying your actions, but about acknowledging the past and moving on in a positive direction.

In this article, we'll delve into the significance of self-forgiveness and share practical steps to help you release the burden of past mistakes.

Understanding Self Forgiveness

Self-forgiveness is the act of accepting one's mistakes and showing compassion towards oneself. The first step towards forgiving yourself is understanding why it's important. 

Here are a few reasons why self-forgiveness is crucial for your well-being:

  • Holding onto feelings of guilt or shame can harm your mental health and well-being. It can lead to low self-confidence, anxiety, and even depression.
  • Not forgiving yourself can prevent you from living fully in the present and moving forward towards your goals. You may constantly dwell on past mistakes and feel stuck in a cycle of self-blame, which can hold you back from experiencing joy and fulfillment in your life.
  • Forgiving yourself is important for your self-respect. By acknowledging your mistakes and taking responsibility for them, you are showing that you value yourself and believe in your ability to make positive changes.
  • Self-forgiveness is also essential for building healthy relationships with others. If you can't forgive yourself, it may be challenging to trust and open up to others, which can hinder the formation of meaningful connections.
  • Forgiving yourself can also have an impact on your physical health. Holding onto bad feelings can lead to stress, which in turn can have negative effects on your body. Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering blood pressure and the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, and reducing pain.

Practical Steps for Self Forgiveness

Now that we know why self-forgiveness is crucial, let's explore the practical steps to help you learn how to forgive yourself.

  • Admit to yourself that you made a mistake: This can be a difficult step, but it's essential in the process of self-forgiveness. Acknowledge what happened and take ownership of your actions. 
  • Take responsibility for your actions: Once you have accepted that you made a mistake, it's important to take responsibility for your actions. This means not making excuses or blaming others. 
  • Acknowledge the harm that you caused: It's crucial to recognize the impact your actions had on others and yourself. This can help you understand why you feel guilty and allow you to apologize sincerely.
  • Feel remorse for your actions: It's important to genuinely feel remorse for your actions and the harm you caused. This shows that you understand the gravity of what happened.
  • Make amends for your mistakes: Take concrete steps to make things right with the people you have hurt. This may involve an apology, restitution, or any other form of restitution that is appropriate for the situation.
  • Learn from your mistakes and commit to not making the same mistake again: Reflect on what led to the mistake and think about ways to prevent it from happening in the future. This shows that you have grown from your experience and are committed to not repeating the same behavior.
  • Accept yourself for who you are, flaws, and all: It's important to recognize that everyone makes mistakes and it doesn't define who you are as a person. Accept yourself for your imperfections and focus on your positive qualities.
  • Let go of guilt and shame associated with past mistakes: Now it is time to let go of the negative feelings associated with your past mistakes. This can be a challenging process, but with practice and self-compassion, you can learn to forgive yourself.
  • Practice self-compassion and self-love: Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember that you are worthy of love and forgiveness, just like anyone else.
  • Focus on the present moment and the positive things in your life: Once you have let go of the past, focus on living in the present and finding joy and fulfillment. Take time to appreciate the positive things and celebrate your growth and progress.

Forgiving yourself doesn't mean that you are excusing your actions or that what happened didn't matter. It's about releasing yourself from the burden of guilt and allowing yourself to heal and grow. Genuine self-forgiveness involves accepting responsibility for your actions and acknowledging the harm you have caused. But it also involves showing yourself compassion and understanding that everyone makes mistakes. To achieve true self-forgiveness, you need to embark on a personal journey of reflection, introspection, and growth. With these practical steps and a dose of self-love, you can learn to forgive yourself and move forward toward a happier, healthier future. 

Importance of Accepting Responsibility

Accepting responsibility for your past mistakes is an essential step towards self-forgiveness.  That's why we'll go into it a little more deeply here. 

When you take responsibility for your actions, you are acknowledging the impact they had on others and yourself. It also shows that you understand the consequences of what happened and are willing to face them.

Moreover, taking responsibility means that you are not trying to shift blame or make excuses for your behavior. This allows you to truly learn from your mistakes and grow as a person.

Accepting responsibility can be difficult, especially if you are feeling guilty or ashamed of your actions. However, it is important to remember that taking responsibility is not the same as blaming yourself. Instead, it is about recognizing your role in the situation and taking steps to make things right.

When you accept responsibility, you are also taking control of the situation. Instead of feeling like a victim, you are actively working towards a solution. This can be empowering and help you move forward.

how to forgive yourself and move on

Dealing with Negative Feelings

Dealing with negative feelings can be challenging, especially when they are directed toward yourself. However, it is essential to learn how to manage these emotions to avoid being consumed by them. In this section, we will discuss some effective ways to handle emotions such as guilt, self-criticism, and other feelings that can come with making mistakes.

Handling Guilt

Guilt is a common negative emotion that can arise when you feel responsible for something that went wrong. When you experience guilt, it's important to remember that feeling guilty doesn't mean you are a bad person. It simply means that you care about the impact of your actions. To handle guilt, it is important to acknowledge the mistake, take responsibility for it, and make amends if possible. However, it is equally important to forgive yourself and move on. Dwelling on guilt can be counterproductive and can lead to further negative emotions.

Overcoming Self Criticism

Self-criticism can be damaging and can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-respect. To overcome self-criticism, it is important to identify the negative self-talk and challenge it. Ask yourself if the criticism is based on facts or if it is just your inner critic. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations and focus on your strengths and accomplishments.

Managing Negative Feelings

Negative feelings such as anger, sadness, and frustration are normal and can arise in response to various situations. However, it is important to manage these feelings to avoid being overwhelmed by them. One effective way to manage negative feelings is to identify the trigger and address it. Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga to calm your mind and body. Engage in activities that bring you joy and happiness to boost your mood.

Overcoming Self Loathing

Self-loathing is a common feeling that can arise when you feel like you have done something wrong or made a mistake. It is a feeling of intense dislike or hatred towards oneself. If you are experiencing self-loathing, it can be challenging to forgive yourself. However, there are some steps you can take.

  • First, it is important to recognize that you are not a bad person. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of focusing on the mistake, try to focus on what you can learn from it. This will help you to see the situation in a more positive light and prevent you from dwelling on the negative aspects.
  • Second, practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend who is going through a difficult time. This means being patient with yourself, accepting your flaws and imperfections, and recognizing that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Finally, seek support from others. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help you process your feelings and gain a new perspective on the situation. You can also seek professional help from a therapist or counselor, who can offer guidance and support as you work through your feelings of self-loathing.

Self Esteem

There are a lot of reasons why you need to forgive yourself. One of them is that if you're struggling with self-forgiveness, it's likely that your self-esteem has taken a hit. Low self-esteem can impact your relationships, job, and health. In this section, we will discuss some ways to take care of yourself and boost your self-esteem as you work towards self-forgiveness. 

  • Recognize negative self-talk: The first step in improving self-confidence is to recognize negative self-talk. This is the voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough, smart enough, or worthy of love and forgiveness. When you recognize negative self-talk, you can begin to distance yourself from it and challenge those thoughts.
  • Be mindful: Mindfulness is another powerful tool for improving self-esteem. By being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings, you can gain a better understanding of your self-talk and how it affects you.
  • Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for building self-esteem. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and doing activities that bring you joy. When you prioritize self-care, you are showing yourself love and compassion, which can boost your self-esteem.
  • Surround yourself with positivity: Surrounding yourself with positive people and positive experiences can also greatly impact your self-esteem. Seek out people who support and encourage you, and engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself.

Improving self-esteem takes time and effort, but it is an important step towards self-forgiveness and overall well-being. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process. 

Role of Mental Health Professionals

If you are struggling to forgive yourself, seeking help from a mental health professional can be a valuable step in the healing process. Mental health professionals, including therapists, counselors, and psychologists, are trained to help individuals work through difficult emotions and experiences, including those related to self-forgiveness.

During therapy sessions, mental health professionals can help you identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to your difficulty in forgiving yourself. They can also provide you with tools and strategies to manage negative self-talk and self-blame, which can be barriers to self-forgiveness.

Moving Forward

Forgiving yourself is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process. There may be times when you slip back into old patterns of negative self-talk or feel overwhelmed by guilt and shame. During these times, it is important to remind yourself of the progress you have made and the steps you can take to move forward.

It can also be helpful to set achievable goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments. This will not only boost your self-esteem but also serve as a reminder that you are capable of growth and change.

what does it mean to forgive yourself


What does it mean to forgive yourself?

Forgiving yourself means acknowledging your mistakes, taking responsibility for your actions, and choosing to let go of bad feelings associated with the mistake. It is a process that involves self-compassion and learning from the experience to move forward in a positive direction. 

What are the 4 R's of self-forgiveness?

The 4 R's of self-forgiveness are:

  1. Recognize your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions.
  2. Remorsefully acknowledge the harm caused by your actions.
  3. Resolve to make positive changes in the future.
  4. Release negative emotions and thoughts associated with the mistake, and move forward with self-compassion and self-love.

How do you let go of regret and forgive yourself?

Letting go of regret and forgiving yourself is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting your mistakes, practicing self-compassion, and committing to personal growth. Reflect on the lessons you can learn from the experience, set realistic goals for yourself, and surround yourself with positive influences. Seek support from loved ones and be patient with yourself as you work through your emotions. Forgiveness is a journey, give yourself time to heal.  Do not dwell on the past but focus on the present and future possibilities. 

Why is forgiving yourself so hard?

Forgiving yourself can be difficult because it requires you to confront and accept your mistakes. It may also involve facing uncomfortable emotions such as guilt, shame, or regret. However, practicing self-compassion and focusing on personal growth can help make the process of forgiving yourself easier. 

How to develop self-compassion?

To practice self-compassion, you can treat yourself with kindness and understanding. One way is to practice self-care. This can involve doing things that make you feel good, such as taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk in nature, or spending time with loved ones. It can also involve taking care of your physical health, such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and exercising regularly.

What happens when you forgive yourself?

When you forgive yourself, you release yourself from the bad feelings associated with your mistake. You also open up space for personal growth and positive change. Forgiving yourself allows you to let go of the past and focus on the present, promoting self-compassion and acceptance. It can help improve your overall well-being and relationships with others.  So while it may be a difficult process, forgiving yourself can lead to positive outcomes in the long run.  


Self-forgiveness is a vital aspect of maintaining good mental and physical health. It allows us to let go of the negative feelings that can often weigh us down and impede our progress. 

Practicing self-forgiveness requires us to go through specific steps, including admitting our mistakes, taking responsibility, making amends, and learning valuable lessons. Being accountable is crucial, and it involves owning our mistakes without making excuses or shifting blame.

In addition to taking these steps, we need to deal with our emotions by recognizing our triggers, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in activities that bring us joy.

It's also essential to overcome self-criticism by challenging negative talk and improving our self-esteem by recognizing harmful self-talk, engaging in self-care, and seeking outside help if needed. 

Progress is not always easy, but by moving forward with achievable goals and celebrating our accomplishments, we can encourage ourselves to keep going.