We have all been there. The moment when we realized that we said and/or did something that is out of character. Whether it was that heated discussion with family members about politics that led to name calling or avoiding the friend that just went through a bad break-up, you are not alone. We are only human and by being human, we make mistakes. When we makes mistakes, we either feel shame and/or guilt or put blame on the other person. Either action deserves some forgiveness towards yourself. We tend hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and beat ourselves up when we don’t meet those standards. Our society also teaches us that if we beat ourselves up for our mistakes, we learn from those mistakes and do better. Unfortunately, this is not true. Pioneers in the field of vulnerability, shame, and forgiveness like Brene Brown (“The Gift of Perfection”) have found that beating yourself up only causes you to feel more shame and less likely to allow yourself to be vulnerable among others in the future. Forgiving yourself is the key to making lasting changes and being happy.
When you make a mistake or do something you soon regret, follow these steps below towards forgiveness of yourself:
State outloud to yourself the mistake you made. Don’t place blame on the other person for your choices
Once you admit your mistake, share your acknowledgement of the mistake with the person or persons it affected. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and be present with the person you are talking to
After you acknowledge your mistake to the person, apologize. Don’t expect anything in return. Just apologize
Lastly, sit with yourself in your favorite chair or in a safe place in your home and allow the emotions to come up with your mistake. You may cry, want to hit a pillow, or yell. Allow yourself to do that. Then place your hands over your heart and say out loud “I forgive myself for _____. I know better and I will do better.” Say this 3x. Once you complete this, breathe deeply while your hands are over your heart. Then, let it go
Holding onto our mistakes only cause us suffering. There is no need to punish yourself. Move on and choose to do better in the future. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “The weak never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Forgive yourself and choose to be happy, rather than right.
Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email.