If you were to give yourself advice, how different would it be to the advice you’d give a friend in a similar situation? We often tend to be harsher on ourselves, less forgiving and sympathetic, with higher expectations and levels of criticism. We don’t always give ourselves advice, but give ourselves lectures. But we deserve some compassion, love and understanding from ourselves. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. And that’s ok. If we learn and grow, there’s no unwritten rule saying we should punish ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Although it’s tempting to tuck our negatives into a box underneath the bed, sometimes, in life, we have to venture into the darkroom. And that’s not because we should hold onto the past as a way to punish ourselves, torment ourselves, or hold ourselves back. But because our negatives have so much more to offer us than the negatives. We can confront the past. Move on. Learn a lesson. Switch perspectives. Instigate changes. Grant forgiveness. Enhance strength. And build a healthier, more positive life. Don’t be afraid of your negatives. Don’t get hung up on them either. Grow from your negatives. And turn them into positives.
Even though we often tend to relive it, we ultimately cannot change the past. And whilst punishing ourselves seems to fit what we think we deserve, we need to learn to forgive ourselves. Because without forgiveness, there’s no moving forward and then there’s no future. We should always forgive ourselves for our mistakes, but here are a few times when we definitely should:
- When we let other people down – sometimes we have to do what’s best for us. And sometimes that’s borne out of things beyond our control. We cannot always please everyone and satisfy our own passions and dreams at the same time. At the end of the day, we have one life and we have to live it.
- When we trust the wrong person – we cannot see the inner workings of another person. So we cannot expect ourselves to know another’s intentions or predict another’s actions. Trust might be hard to hand out again next time, but don’t give up on it, because relationships are beautiful. They mean you’re living and not hiding.
- When we think we should be perfect – we set high expectations of ourselves, even if they’ve been created by somebody else. We all have limitations that we either need to accept or overcome. Don’t be so harsh on yourself. It’s ok to mess up. That’s how we get better.
- When we gave up on something – we all have times when we give up on something for a particular reason, whether temporary or permanent. And later on, we might come to regret that. But it’s never too late to start on an old or a new ambition. Learn a lesson from the last experience and push past that hurdle this time.
There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past. Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go.
What do you need to get better at forgiving yourself for?
Stop punishing yourself. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we act impulsively. Sometimes we let people down. Sometimes we pick the wrong branch to climb up. And sometimes we can’t fix our mistakes, so we punish ourselves for lack of a better solution. Whilst punishing ourselves illuminates our sorrow and repentance, it will ultimately hold us back. We waste time dwelling on the past. We become afraid of making mistakes, afraid to learn and therefore afraid of living. We begin to lose our sense of worth and confidence. Stop punishing yourself. Forgive yourself. You’re still good enough.
If each of us had to draw our life from one point on a piece of paper to another, the line would be anything but straight. Loops, tangents and squiggles are just a natural part of life. And we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves because of them.
Of course, we should try to embrace and learn from all the bumps we encounter along the way, but it is also just as most important that we learn to let go of them. Hanging onto self-criticism, embarrassment, what ifs, or regret won’t help us. It won’t help our self-esteem. It won’t help us to tackle problems. It won’t help us in unexpected or uncomfortable situations. It won’t help us in the future.
Don’t let your past determine your future. Write down the moment that haunts you on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. Stop punishing yourself. Instead, forgive yourself and move on.
For fear of appearing weak and inferior or to inflict punishment and guilt onto someone, passing responsibility and placing blame on others is a part of our human nature. Sometimes we blame other people for both our own problems and their problems and other times we cannot let go of the blame and the guilt we place on ourselves. But where does blame really get us? Sure, it satisfies our first moments of anger, frustration and feeling upset. But if blame leads to grudges or internal punishments that we can never pay enough time for, where will we end up? Blame means living in the past. Blaming others means avoiding the problem and therefore ignoring the solution. Blaming ourselves means dwelling on the problem rather than focusing on the solution. Blame means hanging onto negativity. We might never be able to forget the issue, but we can live with it. Accept responsibility. Accept your mistakes and learn from them. Apologise and rectify. Change. Accept apologies. Leave behind that which hurts you. Become stronger. Move on and be free.
We all have accidents from time to time, those out of the blue moments where we’ve made a snap decision or we just missed the window of fortune or we made an error in a blur. We’ve also all made mistakes that come about when we’ve entered into something knowingly, but weren’t quite expecting the outcome we were presented with. Sometimes we have a combination of accidents and bad choices. It happens to everyone including successful people, happy people, fulfilled people. And why are those people successful, happy and fulfilled anyway? Because they didn’t continuously punish themselves for it. They recognised their errors. They probably cursed themselves and kicked themselves. But then they moved on. We all need to learn to do the same. We need to learn from our mistakes, let our negativity go, we need to learn to forgive ourselves, and that will eventually allow us to move on. We might make mistakes again, but mistakes make us stronger, wiser, more alert, more precise, more determined. Mistakes mean we are trying. Mistakes are not the opposite of success; they drive success. Don’t give up on yourself because you carry the weight of your mistakes. Let your mistakes float beside you as they guide you to higher places.