Jun 122012
 

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:

Dear Maureen,

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.

Blessings,
Laurie

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…

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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?

About Me

quips tips love relationshipsI'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.

  9 Responses to “10 Reasons to Forgive Yourself for the Bad Things You Did”

  1. Hi Laurie,

    I have just come across your website. I too gave my pet away after losing my other dog that I had had for 11 and a half years. My first dog who I had to have euthanised due to very ill health was everything to me, I did not want him to suffer so stayed with him as he was put to sleep, he had heart problems and his eye sight was fading, the vet said it was the kindest thing to do. Not long after I got a rescue dog, when I brought him home, I cried constantly and felt it was not fair on the dog. I took him back to the dogs home after two weeks and since then have felt tremendous guilt and still think of him. I kick myself constantly for taking him back and miss him so much. He was a year old and a lovely dog, I wished I had given him a chance, I have not felt the same since and not had any other pets since. This was in 2010 and the feelings have still not gone away. I have had counselling too.

    I just wanted to share my feelings and I wish I could have peace of mind again and forgive myself.

  2. Just googled “guilty for giving pet away”. I am so happy that I found you’re article. Thank you for you’re insight and experince. I thought I could do it all. Be a mommy to a 20 month old and six year old, own a dog with alot of needs, work full time, cook, clean up after a dog and children, keep social life, fit in time for my partner, romance…It became a whirlwind of domestic confusion. Something had to give. Sadly that was our beautiful Chihuahua we have only owned for three months. It is the hardest thing dealing with guilt that you couldn’t do it all and that you brought an animal into you’re life. I still think about her alot at night time and convince myself I made the right choice….Thank you again Laurie.

  3. Thanks for your comments – I’m glad to hear from you, and very happy that this article about forgiving yourself was helpful.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  4. Thank you again. The part about dogs triggering a deep emotional response is spot-on. I just said to a friend that I have “doggy issues” the way some people have “mommy issues.” There is something to that.

  5. I want to thank you for helping me see and feel there’s hope.now i just have to figure out what’s really going on and hopefully get to the bottom of it because this really sucks.I plan on reading these books u mentioned, continue counseling,volunteer at shelter.I’m sick and tired of feeling this way and I’m the only one who can change that.these articles have given me the strength to acknowledge that now the real work begins.

    Thanks again

  6. Hi Eileen,

    Yes, it was you I was referring to! I’ve learned that readers don’t always like when I use their real names in my articles, so I changed yours.

    Sometimes we feel inappropriately or inordinately bad about the decisions we made, because of unresolved issues in our past. The current situation is a “trigger” that opens up the floodgates of past feelings.

    So, maybe you feel extremely guilty not just because of your dog, but because it’s touched something else inside of you.

    I recently read that if we have extreme or unrealistic emotional reactions to a specific event, then it’s a sign of an unresolved past emotional issue. I’m not saying this is the case for you, but it’s what I read…and it’s often the case for me.

    Also, dogs bring out a whole different side of us! When I got my dog Jazz, I cried every day for the whole time we had her. She was triggering some deep emotional response in me, and I still don’t really know what it was. But, just knowing that there’s something else going on does help.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting on this article – and for inspiring me to list the reasons to forgive yourself for the “bad” things you did! I don’t think you did anything wrong or bad AT ALL, but I do hope you can forgive yourself, have compassion, and move on into a happier, healthier stage.

    Please do come back and let me know how you are!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  7. What i don’t understand why I’m doing this to myself is because I know where he is with good people, I see him every week sometimes a few times a week, I’m not judging anyone for having to give dog to a shelter I know for me it would hurt me even more then the pain I feel now and we are still in each others lives.I know he’s ok but i still have the guilt.it just doesn’t make sense to me why I feel the way i do.I just hope that with telling my story it will help me deal with my own pain and help others deal with theirs.I hope I’m on my way to healing and i plan on doing a lot of reading with these books that are recommended because i can’t go on like this.it feels like quicksand that i can’t get out but I’m gonna try.

  8. Your response to the woman who can’t forgive herself for giving away her pet was actually the response to my comment on your other article.to see this article knowing u were talking about me made my jaw drop.even tho the names r different I no it was my comment and ur response was exactly the same.I’m going to get this book and hope it will help me with my guilt and to help me stop beating myself up over my situation and find some compassion towards myself.

  9. Hi Laurie,

    Enjoyed your article. The tips which we tend to forget all the time and torture ourselves unnecessarily.Forgetting and moving forward is the key thing in life.

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