Toughest person to forgive? Yourself.
“My worst mistakes I’ve made have been the ones directed by sweet-natured hopefulness.” - Charles Baxter, Feast of Love
The hardest person to forgive is often ourselves. Maybe it feels less important or pressing but failing to relieve yourself of long standing guilt has actual proven health consequences - like depression, cardiovascular problems and immune dysfunction.
Next time you’re faced with a sense of guilt you just can’t shake, consider the following -
1: Use it as an opportunity to define your values and beliefs. People often feel badly when their actions don’t align with the person they want to be. This is an opportunity to commit yourself to making value-directed decisions in the future. Perhaps that means treating someone you love with more respect or doing more research before pulling the trigger on a big decision. Replace the negative feelings and beliefs that surround the “mistake” with ones that make you feel hopeful and proud about moving forward. This will help you affirm that you are capable of making decisions (and mistakes) that don’t result in feeling ashamed or guilty.
2: Accept the fact that the past is the past. Nothing can be done to change it and the future is the best (and most worthwhile) place to put your energy. It may sound obvious but acceptance is a very difficult but powerful state of mind to achieve.
3: Put it in perspective and look at the big picture. So you messed up. You are in good company then, as everyone makes mistakes. The universe (and people) are inclined to try, mess up, forgive and evolve.
4: Guilt is a useless emotion. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Repeat that like a mantra and if you have to, fake it ‘till you make it.
5: Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Most people mean well and don’t intend harm. Know that you were acting with the information you had at the time and that good decision making and behavior patterns take practice to get right. Mistakes are part of the process.