Forgiving yourself can be difficult but can enable you to become a better person...
When we have done something that was against our values and core beliefs, later self-reflection can precipitate emotions from manageable rue to self-flagellation when one sees an uglier side to oneself. Forgiving one’s self can be more difficult than forgiving another. Even if the other person has forgiven us, we know we were in the wrong and may find it hard to forgive ourselves. We may find it hard to let go of our remorse. It isn’t easy at times, but one thing remains constant: we cannot go back and change the past. However, that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten in our consciousness, especially during moments which seem to remind of us of what we have done.
So what can we do? Both for the other person and for ourselves, we can write or openly communicate in words heartfelt apology. We may during the process discover that we really did not mean what we said, but very real human emotions such as fear, anger and insecurity prompted an action not in line with our true feelings. This can help us realise even though we did something bad, we are not a bad person when we know we did not intend to hurt the other person.
We can also write a personal letter of self-forgiveness. This can lead to a greater insight into what prompted the action we regretted. We can then think about with a greater self-awareness what was underneath it, and dealing with that.
One thing that can help is promising ourselves we will not repeat the same action. When our attitude of repentance is followed by changed behaviour, it can be easier to like ourselves, and know deep down that we are sorry.
It can also help to realise that after a certain period of time, beating oneself up for mistakes prevents us from having the focus to behave in ways that are more positive toward people we value in our lives. It does not help anyone by wallowing in guilt. The best you can do is to learn from what you did and move on.
Realise that you are human. If you were perfect, you wouldn’t belong on this planet. Every single person has done things they regret.
It can help both you and the person you wronged by behaving in ways that show you really do care. This can be healing for you and a sign to the other person that it was not ‘just words’ when you apologised.
The painful feeling of remorse can be soothed a little by the fact that you actually do feel sorry: if you did not feel bad, then wouldn’t that be a worse sign.
We all make mistakes. However, dwelling on what we did too long and in a fruitless manner, after we have given a sincere apology will only bring one down, and that doesn’t help anyone.
By picking yourself up, learning from your mistake and resolving to behave differently in the future, you are acting in a way that is more beneficial to others and can lead to self-forgiveness and reconciliation.