10 Ways to Forgive Yourself

dreamy woman standing on sidewalk and leaning on post

All of us have made mistakes at some point in our lives. Some of those may be small, while the others may be the kind that serves as a reminder for you to keep working on yourself. It is easier to just move on and forget about something instead of sitting and mulling over your mistakes. However, in doing so you may forget an important step in the way; forgiving yourself. Empathy, compassion, kindness, and understanding are all necessary qualities for self-forgiveness. It also entails your acceptance of the fact that forgiving is a choice. Forgiveness frees us from bitterness and anger, two emotions that not only don’t feel good but can also disrupt our physical health and hold us back from all the good we might achieve and experience.

The actions you need to take to forgive yourself will look and feel the same whether you’re attempting to work through a little mistake or one that has far-reaching consequences.

In today’s article, I will discuss 10 ways to forgive yourself.

Disclaimer- This article is for educational purposes and is based on personal opinions. This article is not a substitute for professional advice, but general guidance. We advise you to always listen to your intuition and always do what is right for you. If you can relate to any of these signs, please do not take this feedback as an attack on your character. This article is meant to be a self-improvement guide for those of you who have been feeling a little stuck.

1. Focus on your own feelings and emotions

After a negative situation, are you left feeling angry, guilty, or upset? Do you identify the emotions or work on understanding why you specifically feel that way, or do you focus on your thoughts until they get the better of you? 

Focusing on your emotions is one of the first steps in learning to forgive yourself. You must acknowledge and process your feelings before you can go ahead with life. Take your time in processing these emotions. 

Allow yourself to acknowledge, embrace, and welcome the feelings that have been awakened in you. 

2. Speak out about the mistake

If you’ve made a mistake and are having trouble letting it go, say out loud what you’ve learned from it.

You may be able to liberate yourself from some of the burdens if you give voice to the thoughts in your head and the emotions in your heart. You also imprint what you learned from your actions and consequences in your mind.

3. Look at each mistake as a learning experience

Making a mistake doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. It’s okay to make mistakes, take them as learning opportunities that will help you progress faster and more consistently in the future. And make sure you don’t repeat them. 

It will help you forgive yourself and move forward if you remember that you did the best that you could with the tools and knowledge you had at the time.

4. Take it at your own pace. 

If you make a mistake and are having trouble letting it go, envision your thoughts and feelings about it moving into a container, such as a mason jar or box.

Then convince yourself you’re putting this aside for the time being and will return to it if and when it’s beneficial to you. Once you feel like you are ready to let go, sit with the mason jar or the box, and think about how you plan on improving and becoming a better you, for you. Once you are done, walk up to your window or step outside, open the jar/box and say, “I forgive myself”.

5. Consider how you feel on the inside

Journaling can aid in the understanding of your inner critic, and the development of self-compassion. One thing you may do is write down a “dialogue” between you and your inner critic. This might assist you in identifying thought patterns that are preventing you from forgiving yourself.

You can also use your journaling time to compile a list of traits you admire in yourself, such as your strengths and abilities. When you’re feeling bad over a mistake you made, this can make you feel more confident.

6. Make sure you are clear about your intentions.

If the mistake you made hurts another person, you need to determine the best course of action. Do you want to talk to this person and apologize? Is it important to reconcile with them and make amends?

If you’re on the fence about what to do, you might want to consider making amends. This goes beyond saying sorry to a person you’ve hurt. Instead, try to fix the mistake you’ve made. One study found that forgiving ourselves for hurting another is easier if we first make amends.

Apologize to them and forgive yourself knowing you have done everything that you could to rectify your mistake. 

7. Don’t ruminate over it. 

It’s human nature to spend time and energy replaying our mistakes. While some processing is important, going over what happened again and again won’t allow you to take the proper steps to forgive yourself.

When you catch yourself playing the “I’m a horrible person” tape, stop yourself and focus on one positive action step. For example, instead of replaying the tape, take three deep breaths or go for a walk.

Interrupting the thought pattern can help you move away from the negative experience and reduce stress and anxiety. 

8. Be kind to yourself.

We have all found ourselves in difficult positions, sometimes even negative ones. How do you respond in those situations?

 It’s not uncommon for us to blame ourselves or criticize ourselves when faced with a negative situation. It’s time to show yourself some kindness and compassion. The only way to begin the journey to forgiveness is to be kind and compassionate with yourself. 

It takes a lot of time, patience, and a reminder to oneself that you’re worthy of forgiveness.

9. Focus on improving yourself.

Everyone makes mistakes and has things for which they are remorseful. Rumination, self-hatred, and even pity can be harmful to your self-esteem and motivation.

Finding a means to learn from your mistakes and evolve as a person is a big part of forgiving yourself.

To do so, you must first comprehend why you acted in the manner you did and why you are feeling bad. What steps can you take to avoid repeating the same mistakes? Yes, you made a mistake, but it was a valuable lesson that will aid you in making better decisions in the future.

10. Seek professional help.

If you’re struggling with finding ways to forgive yourself, you may benefit by talking to a professional. Talking to a counselor who can help you learn how to break these unhealthy patterns in your life and learn new and healthier ways of coping with your mistakes or problems can be extremely beneficial for you. 


Sara Lindberg (July 25, 2018). How to Forgive Yourself. Retrieved May 28, 2021, from


Amy Morin (February 17, 2021). Taking the Steps to Forgive Yourself. Retrieved May 28, 2021, from


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