Forgiving yourself

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you" - Lewis B. Smedes

Blaming yourself for something you did or didn't do doesn't help; it only causes more pain. Learning from mistakes and seeing the gift is how we heal and grow in life. We've each said something that stung another, done something that made us cringe, or didn't do something that would have made a difference. Shaming and beating ourselves up keeps the pain alive and shuts us down. This prevents us from gleaning insights that might make us a better person down the road.

How to forgive yourself? 

Forgiveness is a form of self love. True forgiveness involves acceptance, compassion and understanding which allow us to release the pain from past mistakes.

Acceptance.  Accepting yourself from a place of neutrality instead of judgment is essential. You can't heal yourself if you are in resistance with what happened. Acceptance doesn't mean you condone your behavior, just that you acknowledge its reality outside of a right/wrong or good/bad dichotomy. Touch into the feeling of self acceptance by accepting yourself in this moment just as you are. Now reflect on your past mistake and accept that it is what it is. Blanket it with the feeling of acceptance by saying to yourself, "Even though I made this mistake, I accept myself."

Compassion.  To forgive yourself for past mistakes you need to have compassion for yourself. Look at the bigger picture of your life to see how anyone in your shoes might have done the same thing. See how your childhood wounds contributed to your beliefs, how your skill set and self-awareness at the time factored in, how the surrounding circumstances played a role. Know that you did the best you could in your situation.

Understanding.  When you understand why things happened the way they did it becomes easier to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Often, painful experiences happen for the sole purpose of learning and growth. Others who are affected by your actions also have the rich opportunity to learn and grow. What did you learn as a result of this experience? What benefits came from these lessons? What did you discover about yourself? What strengthened in you, what softened, and in what ways are you a better person today because of what happened?

Feeling.  Forgiveness is more than a concept; it's a feeling or a state of being, the way peacefulness is a feeling state. The energy of forgiveness is very healing as it supports the release of judgments, blame and anything that doesn't support your highest good. Tune into this feeling by imagining a beautiful rose out in front of you that is filled with the essence of forgiveness. See the softness in it, see the love, and then let your body match this feeling. Let this subtle vibration flow through your whole body, down into the cells. Let go into it and release any un-forgiveness you've been holding onto.

Acceptance, compassion and understanding are all aspects of forgiveness. You can heal any part of your life by being acceptant, compassionate and understanding with yourself and others. As you forgive, you release blame, judgment, and resentment, and you heal and free yourself completely.

Adapted from