Tired of beating yourself up for the mistakes you made and the “bad” things you did? Here are the best reasons to forgive yourself for what you’ve done and how you treated people.
I’m writing this article because I’m tired of flagellating myself for my mistakes, and because of the comments I get on my article about giving a pet away. So many people feel so incredibly guilty and “bad” for what they did – whether it’s surrendering a pet or stealing from gramma or committing a heinous act of murder or worse!
Yes, a guilty conscience is healthy….but beating yourself up and not forgiving yourself for the bad things you did is not.
I’m reading Love Has Wings: Free Yourself from Limiting Beliefs and Fall in Love with Life, and I love it. It’s about accepting yourself, your life, and the choices you made — but also making change and taking steps forward.
If you can’t forgive yourself because of what you did, you need to read Love Has Wings.
Why I’m Writing About Self-Forgiveness and Self-Acceptance
Here’s a part of a letter I wrote to a woman who can’t forgive herself for giving her pet away:
I’m sorry you’re going through this — it’s such a terrible feeling, wondering if you did the right thing. And the guilt and pain never seems to go away (though it does get lighter and easier to live with!).
Getting counseling is a good idea, because it’ll help you deal with the guilt.
Try not to them bother you – those people who judge, condemn, and criticize you for the choices you made. I have no respect for people like that. They’re too narrow-minded to see that we’re all on different journeys in life, we have different reasons for making the choices we do, and we’re all doing the best we can.
Maybe we made the wrong decision to give our pets away – I often wonder if I did! – but we made the best decision we could at the time.
If you feel guilty for the “bad” things you did, you need to learn how to accept, love, and forgive yourself. I’m working on that – I want to be more compassionate towards myself, so I can be more compassionate and loving towards others.
You did the right thing — you made the best decision you could’ve made at that point and time in your life.
We have to remember that we made decisions based on what we were going through at the time, and know that we did the best we could.
10 Reasons to Forgive Yourself for the Bad Things You Did
“If you reject or push away some aspect of yourself, it only gets bigger,” writes Judd in Love Has Wings. “You have to embrace it – it is a part of you and you cannot deny it forever. Don’t label something as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’; embrace it with honesty and acceptance.”
Are you tired of beating yourself up for the mistakes you made? It’s time to forgive yourself, because…
- Changing the past is impossible. You did the best you could with the skills, knowledge, emotions, and personality you had at the time. What good comes from beating yourself up for the mistakes you made?
- Accepting the worst parts of yourself – your insecurities, weaknesses, shameful acts, “bad” decisions – will help you love yourself. The result? You’ll be at peace with who you are and what you’ve done.
- Being kind and reassuring towards yourself makes you strong, confident, safe, secure, and trusting. The result? This will help you make good decisions now and in the future.
- Having compassion for yourself makes you more compassionate towards others. The result? You’re a kinder, happier, more caring person. And the world needs more of those!
- Embracing your fears and insecurities may bring short-term pain, and long-term relief. The result? You’ll build better relationships with people – and with yourself.
- Forgiving yourself for the mistakes you made increases your self-perception and self-esteem. The result? You feel better about yourself, which inspires you to make better choices.
- Releasing your inner critic makes you feel happier and friendlier towards both yourself and the world. The result? You will attract happy, friendly, positive, warm people into your life.
- Surrendering to the “bad” things you did, to your past decisions and choices, will help you live mindfully. The result? You learn to exist in the moment…and the moment is all you have.
- Loving yourself frees you from addiction – whether you’re addicted to food, shopping, drugs, sex, or people pleasing. The result? You’re free from addiction!
- Letting go of the past makes you lighter and free-er. The result? You can move forward without emotional baggage that drags you down.
“True freedom is about taking responsibility for who you are, embracing who you are, and trusting in your own inner voice,” writes Judd in Love Has Wings.
I’d add that true freedom comes from forgiving yourself for the bad things you did. That’s the biggest thing holding me back in life: remorse for the things I’ve done.
Do you hate yourself? Read my article about overcoming-self hatred and starting fresh.
What do you think – can you forgive yourself for the bad things you did in your life?
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.