How to Forgive Yourself for Any Mistake
In the moments after you’ve stumbled into a mistake — big or small — it’s easy to convince yourself that the worst possible consequence is the wrath of the person most affected by it. If you’ve faltered at work, you’re terrified about what your boss is going to say. If you’ve fallen short within your relationship or as a member of your family, it’s all about one of those “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” speeches from someone you really care about. No matter who you feel you’ve let down, the essential question is always the same: Will they forgive me?
Yes, it can be brutal to wait for the forgiveness of someone else, but it can be just as difficult to seek it from yourself. As humans, we can be really hard on ourselves. Often, we’re left holding an internal grudge long after everyone else has forgotten a mistake entirely. And we deserve better from ourselves!
To help you practice forgiving yourself more quickly and effectively, we talked to Basis mental wellness expert Bailey Yuro. Keep scrolling for all the details — and remember to put these suggestions to work next time you’re tempted to punish yourself for a job less-than-perfectly done.
1. Remember that the past is the past. Once it’s done, it’s done. Did you make a significant typo in an important work email? Did you forget your mom’s birthday? There’s no need to deny that these mistakes happened — because they did — but you will be more likely to forgive yourself if you focus on the fact that they’re behind you. After all, there’s nothing you can do it about it.
2. Stop punishing yourself. “Focus on the ways in which you can be better moving forward, rather than punishing yourself for whatever happened,” Yuro says. “Instead of beating yourself up for the ways in which you did or didn’t act, take steps to make amends in whatever way you can, starting now.” Maybe the best way to move beyond making yourself feel guilty for the mistake you’ve made is to start building a mental list of what you can actively do to set things right.
3. Give yourself a little credit. Yes, you made a mistake. But you need to know that you’re so much more than that mistake. We’re all growing and changing constantly and there is always room for improvement. “While you may have acted a certain way in the past, you are a different person now, so give yourself credit for that,” Yuro tells us. “Sure, you might do things differently if you were in the same situation today, but you did the best that you were able to at the time.”
4. Think about the lessons learned. Consider what the experience of making the mistake in question has taught you about how to be a better person, a more effective employee, a more reliable friend, or a more thoughtful partner. Channel all those feels you’re feeling into a teachable moment — for yourself. Chances are that you’ll find it easier to move past this error when you feel more confident that you’ve learned something that will help you avoid making it again.
5. Focus on moving forward. Yuro calls this one the “crux of how to forgive yourself,” so pay attention: While guilt is a natural emotion, the best thing you can do on the heels of a mistake is to try to move forward. “Taking everything you know now and leaving behind the things you cannot change, you can focus on acting in accordance with your true set of morals and values,” Yuro says.
6. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. There are few situations that can’t be helped by taking a little time to get your feelings off your chest. Find a friend, family member, or even a professional who can help you process any guilt and shame that’s standing in the way of self-forgiveness. A third party may be just what you need to realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem!
What kinds of mistakes do you need to forgive yourself for? Tweet us @BritandCo.
(Photo via Getty)