How To Forgive Yourself? 4 Psychological Keys

How to forgive yourself

Some people are easy to forgive someone who has hurt them but, ironically, they are incredibly critical of themselves. They are not able to forgive themselves small mistakes, which they deeply regret and which cause them great discomfort.

Guilt is a human feeling of great social importance since it allows us to assimilate the ethical and moral code as we grow, seeing which things are right and which are wrong. However, if we are not able to recover after committing a foul, we have a problem.

In this article we are going to see how to forgive yourself understanding the function of guilt, the phases of forgiveness and the things we can do to achieve self-forgiveness.

How to forgive yourself? Psychological keys

Forgive yourself It is essential to enjoy good mental health and inner peace It is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves, since it is a source of emotional stability, although, of course, it is not an easy task.

It requires having well-developed aspects such as humility, patience and self-esteem, aspects that are factors closely related to personality that act as protection against psychopathology.

Nobody is perfect. We have all made mistakes at some point, mistakes that are repeated with an echo inside our minds, tormenting ourselves about the damage we have done. This, in a certain way, is normal, given that among the gifts that human beings have, in addition to intelligence, is a good memory, a capacity that is sometimes put against us. This memory, combined with a somewhat masochistic tendency, likes to remind us over and over again of something bad that we find difficult to forgive ourselves.

Is it bad to feel guilty?

The feeling of guilt is a fundamental mechanism in our learning. It is thanks to this emotion that our consciousness is formed establishing limits on whether our motivations and behaviors are appropriate or not.

According to Erik Erikson, healthy guilt is a feeling that develops around the age of three, acquiring a very important role in our ability to relate to others, acquire socially appropriate behavior and internalize social norms.

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When this emotion is not properly developed, problems arise in internalizing the ethical and moral code, given the relational difficulties that arise from this. The absence of healthy guilt is one of the main characteristics of psychopaths. Nor should we go to the other extreme. Feeling guilty about everything and everyone is a pathological behavior, a symptom of a serious personality problem, various frustrations and urgent psychological intervention.

What should be clear to us is that feeling guilty is usually a good indicator that we have acted wrongly, or at least, it gives us the feeling that we have transgressed ethical and moral norms in some way.

It means that We are aware that we must have done something wrong and, feeling guilty, we move to correct our mistakes We can try to make things right by apologizing or taking other actions to reduce upset and regret.

The problem is when guilt invades us in an extreme way. We feel guilty about things that are already part of the past, letting them torment us again and again and entering an infinite loop. It is this vicious circle that does not allow us to fully live our lives trapping us in the past and not letting us progress.

What does it mean to forgive yourself?

It should be very clear that forgiving oneself is not synonymous with justifying inappropriate behavior nor is it stopping feeling remorse. Forgiving ourselves involves, first of all, recognizing the negative emotions that a mistake committed in the past produces in us and, even so, deciding that they lose strength in our present.

Forgiveness is not a sudden process It requires a lot of progress, especially if the act to forgive is complex. It is quite likely that it will take us a few years to completely heal the wounds that we consider serious. On other occasions, either due to the characteristics of the act to be forgiven or how we are in terms of personality, our ability to forgive ourselves will be easier.

It is very important that, to forgive ourselves, we change our perspective of the situation experienced We must give ourselves permission to move forward and overcome what happened, living in the present, trying to achieve full peace and opening ourselves to a future without pain. It also means overcoming resistance to change, something that is never easy.

The phases of self-forgiveness

Forgiving ourselves is a complicated process, often more difficult than forgiving others. This process involves the following phases.

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1. Recognize the truth

The first thing to do is recognize the truth. We need to be honest with ourselves and, if it is true that we have done something wrong, not deceive ourselves. We cannot forgive ourselves for something if we do not know what needs to be forgiven.

2. Assume what happened

All action have a reaction. Our wrong actions carry negative consequences, which are the true actions we regret. That bad thing we did has ended up happening to what our conscience cannot get rid of Taking responsibility for what happened is brave and we must face what it entails.

3. Contact our emotions

We must get in touch with the deepest emotions that motivated that behavior that we now regret. To know what emotions influenced how we behave, it is essential to look back and ask ourselves questions like:

It is normal that the actions that we regret later have been marked by a high emotional component, mostly of a negative nature. We behave in a way that, when we are emotionally stable, we do not

4. Allow ourselves to feel

We are imperfect beings. Sometimes we are happy and other times sad, which influences the way we behave. It is this emotionality that gives us the most important characteristic of our existence, our humanity.

Acceptance of our imperfection, that we can feel a wide repertoire of emotions and that we will not always behave in the best way is a key aspect of being able to forgive ourselves. Self-criticism must give way to compassion for ourselves

What can we do?

There are several strategies we have to forgive ourselves. All of them can help us speed up the process of self-forgiveness.

1. Apologize

It is logical that, To forgive yourself, it is necessary to apologize to the person we hurt, if applicable Apologies should be deep and heartfelt. They should also be without expectations: if we apologize and the other person still feels hurt, it is normal that they still do not dare to forgive us.

Everyone can experience the situation and progress at their own pace, and we must accept it. Whether it takes a long or short time to forgive ourselves, the act itself will help us accelerate our healing process and, surely, also that of the other person.

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2. Talk about it

Sharing the experience is essential to be aware of what happened and relativize it Talking about it allows us to discuss it with people who, preferably, should be trustworthy.

We can tell it to a friend who gives us confidence and compassion and, perhaps, tells us that he also experienced a similar situation and how he overcame it.

3. Go to therapy

Another option, highly recommended, is to go to therapy and talk to a psychologist This professional will address what we are unable to forgive from a more neutral and impartial perspective, in addition to selecting the most appropriate clinical strategies for the specific situation and treating it.

4. Write an apology letter

A very useful strategy is to write an apology letter, especially if what we feel bad about is something that we consider cannot be fixed. This is especially recommended for cases in which we cannot talk to the person whom we believe we have harmed such as a deceased relative or someone with whom we have broken all communication

For example, it is possible that before our mother died we quarreled with her. Not having apologized to her during her lifetime makes us feel bad and we are not able to forgive ourselves. We can’t talk to her, but we can write her letter and ask for forgiveness, make peace symbolically.

This technique does not only work with the dead and people with whom we will no longer be able to speak. It can also be done with someone we can easily start a conversation with. The idea would be the same, only that we will have the option of deciding whether or not to deliver the letter to the person whom we consider we have defrauded.

Final reflection

As with forgiveness in general, forgiving yourself is a process that is not easy. It’s a long road in which we are going to have our ups and downs with a marked emotional charge but which, if done well, will help us leave the pain behind.

By forgiving ourselves we free ourselves from the heavy chains of the past and make our present and future something lighter, happier and more enjoyable, because that is what life is about: being able to enjoy it.

Accepting that we did something wrong, consciously or unconsciously at the time, is a healthy, mature and responsible action. People, unless we have a problem, do not behave in a harmful way towards others just because: there is always a reason, whether it is because of a negative emotion or because we did not know how to behave better.

It is discovering what we did wrong that makes us grow and avoid making the same mistake in the future Forgiving ourselves is the step that will lead us to good mental health and inner peace.