How to forgive yourself and let go of the past 🙏🏼
A missed job opportunity. A botched business partnership. A decision not to pursue your education further. A chance to build your brand that you didn’t take.
Any one of these events can cause us to ruminate on what we SHOULD have done.
To an extent, that’s good! Reflecting on past actions to determine where improvement can be made, and then letting go, is a healthy part of self-development.
It’s when we dwell on things that can’t be changed and perpetually beat ourselves up for past missteps that our confidence and potential for success will suffer a major blow. As the saying goes, (and just like the title of Dr. Chris Thurman's book) “Stop should-ing all over yourself!”
Whether or not it's convenient, forgiving yourself for your past is essential to moving forward in life.
Well for a start, constantly ruminating on our past leaves us stuck there.
The guilt we feel often prevents us from seeing the truth: that we are worthy people deserving of forgiveness, peace, and happiness.
Whenever I get down on myself about a mistake I’ve made, I stop and ask myself: is this how I would speak to my 9-year-old twins, if they made a similar mistake?
I almost always soften my tone afterward!
How about you?
Have you ever noticed that you’re quick to encourage other people to forgive themselves?
Do you constantly reassure people that it’s “totally okay” and then forget their slip even happened?
Why don’t we extend this same forgiveness and compassion towards ourselves? Why do we beat ourselves up for days, weeks, months, even years, for our past mistakes?
It's time that we start learning how to forgive ourselves as quickly as we would forgive anyone else. Try these tips to do just that.
Quick Confidence tips for moving on from your past:
Mindset: Take responsibility and find the lesson. Forgiving yourself is about more than just moving on. It’s about acknowledging your past behaviors and accepting what happened. Taking responsibility for what you’ve done can bring an incredible sense of relief and help you release guilt and shame. But here’s what really takes it to the next learning level: I want you to identify the One Big Lesson from your regret that you want to impress in your mind for the future. Some example lessons might include: don’t be so quick to underestimate what you can do in a challenging new situation, or don’t blindly place others’ input above your own instinct or judgment.
Embodied: Feel your feelings…then free ‘em. There’s a reason that we want to avoid feeling shameful or angry: it literally hurts! Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital says chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Those changes then increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes among other conditions. Dr. Swartz says forgiveness, on the other hand, calms stress levels, leading to improved health. I recommend you find a physical release to symbolize letting go of your regret. Maybe it’s writing it down and burning it in your BBQ (!), or throwing a stone in a creek to consciously let yourself feel a release. It could even mean taking a seed and planting it to represent a new kind of growth.
Interpersonal: Repair damage and rebuild trust. Apologizing for your mistake is the first step to repairing damage and rebuilding trust. You might need to apologize to yourself in some cases. This is an important step because it shows you want to remedy the issue and that you want to do better. Making an effort to repair things fuels a sense of positivity and rebuilding; it turns a page from where things were to a new page. You’ll see that it becomes a whole lot easier to forgive yourself when you feel like you’ve done everything you can do to make things right or at least, better.
Remember, the human emotion of remorse is not a bad thing. While it’s not a “fun” feeling, it indicates that you are a good person who doesn’t want to hurt people, do bad things or play small in your own life!
Feeling regret can often lead us to make positive choices in the future.
Do you have any tips for forgiving yourself and moving on from your past? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!