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I want to start off by confessing that this is not an easy post for me to write. From time to time, I have had an unhealthy relationship with my humanness where I struggled to accept that I can’t do the right thing every single time.
Gratefully though, I don’t make myself suffer as much anymore, but sometimes, the remembrance of past mistakes throws me into this dark pit of shame and self-blame. With time, I became better at climbing out of it, and I want to help you with the lessons that I have learned so that we stop visiting this dark place for good.
Let’s begin by understanding guilt.
Why do we experience guilt?
Guilt is an emotion serving a purpose. We experience it when our actions are in conflict with our values and belief systems. It’s necessary to feel, and a force that keeps us true to ourselves making us responsible to amend the mistakes that we make.
There are two types of guilt, reparative and persecutory.
Reparative guilt is the one that helps us improve and redeem ourselves. It’s when you forget your friend’s birthday but make it up by visiting them as soon as you can with a big hamper of gifts. It makes you go above and beyond to show how much you care about your friend. Reparative guilt puts the focus on repairing the mistake and moving on.
Persecutory guilt, on the other hand, puts the focus on you. It makes you shut yourself away, not take enough steps to redeem yourself because you’re so focused on the crash, and resorting to emotional torture by self-blame instead.
It’s when you’re walking next to your partner that you hurt, but instead of trying your best to make amends and do what you can for them, you stay in the toxic loop of relentlessly questioning how you could do something wrong.
It doesn’t let you move on and do what is healthy. It doesn’t let you give the care that you need to the other person and the forgiveness that you need to give to yourself.
It is important to forgive yourself. It is important to move past your mistakes and live your life. Let’s learn how to do that now:
5 Steps to Forgive Yourself for Your Past and Release Guilt
- Decide to forgive yourself
- Know that punishing yourself is not a form of redemption
- Make sure to do everything in your hand
- See the goodness in yourself
- Remember that you’re human
1. Decide to forgive yourself
Before we even get into the nitty-gritty of practical steps to take, you have to be ready to go on this path. You deserve forgiveness. Surely, you’re here because you want to do that, but it’s so easy to start self-blaming again.
Affirm to yourself, “I am ready to forgive myself.”
I don’t know what happened, I understand that it could be deeply hurtful, but you can’t let your mistakes define you. You’re more than that, trust me.
You deserve peace and sticking to guilt will not give you that. Forgive yourself to let off this weight. It’s not unfair. You’re not going easy on yourself. This will help you do and be better. If you really want to the right thing now, choose to forgive yourself.
2. Know that punishing yourself is not a form of redemption
I used to think torturing myself with negative and self-blaming thoughts was a way of making amends. I thought it was what I deserved after making a mistake. But, all that led to was wasted time, a disempowered spirit, someone in pain, and no improvement. It was not right to keep the attention on myself and my failure. I realized the better and frankly, the more intelligent thing to do was to get myself together and fix the dent.
It’s not good for our well-being to be that harsh voice in our heads. There are better ways to right the wrong.
3. Make sure to do everything in your hand
There is a sense of satisfaction that you feel when you know that you ticked every possible box on the list. Something didn’t go as you intended it to. Now, what can you do about it? Think of all the ways that you can make a better, and healthier choice now.
And, go about doing this with a positive attitude. We are all bound to mess up sometimes, some of us make bigger mistakes than others, but what’s done is done.
What can you learn from this? How can you ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistake again?
If you take responsibility for your mistakes and decide to take every step to grow from them, you will succeed at turning an unfortunate event into something that considerably improves your life with those around you for the time to come.
4. See the goodness in yourself
You know, we have this obsession with giving more energy to the negative and to the fault. Chances are that you have done a lot of good things in your life. The number of times you messed up would be considerably low, but we’re so hard on ourselves that the times we did the right thing become insignificant to us.
Remember all those times when you were there for someone, when you did what you wanted to, when you said the right words, when you listened as you should have, when you helped someone, when you lived up to the values in your life.
I’ll say this again, you are much more than the mistakes that you have made. Intentionally or unintentionally, whatever happened, you have realized your fault now and you need to release the guilt that you’re carrying. You need to forgive yourself.
Related: 25 Things to Appreciate About You
5. Remember that you’re human
Human beings are not perfect. You cannot be perfect, no matter how hard you try. What will make you distinct is your effort and dedication towards being as good as you can be. Even when you mess up, even when you do something that you didn’t intend to do, you will be defined by what you choose to do after your mistake, not by your mistake.
Life is not a predictable experience. Even the best of us fall short of our expectations. You don’t have to suffer so much because you did something wrong. You have to commit to doing better and improving. To let go and grow.
And, that’s all! These were the 5 steps that I think you should take to forgive yourself for your past and release the guilt that you have been holding on to. You deserve it, remember that.
I wish you beautiful days and hope that my words could help you in some way today.
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