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How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward

Perhaps you have made a bad decision and have hurt someone’s feelings. You may have made an error at work and cost your company money. You were untruthful, stole or cheated. You missed a great opportunity because you were scared.

These are just a few of the behaviors that many people have taken, the ones that make us feel shameful and guilty inside and regretful about what we have done. They are the behaviors we are aware our wrong, yet did them anyway. They go completely against our values and ethics.

The nagging thoughts and feelings that follow these negative behaviors continue to let us know we did wrong. This is also how we know it is time to forgive ourselves and move forward.

The more you understand how to forgive yourself, the easier it will be to move forward.

By now, you know that forgiveness is a good thing. It frees you from negative emotions. It breaks a connection to a past action that has been holding you back.

Many agree that forgiving others is much easier than forgiving themselves. Even though it offers the same positive benefits, it is a harder step to take.

What you may not know is that not forgiving yourself can hinder how you think, feel and act. If you refuse to forgive yourself, negative thoughts will continually run through your mind. You allow the false belief based on your negative behavior of not being good enough to enter your mind. Over time, you start believing this to be true.

How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward

You may think you do not deserve to feel better, you feel unworthy of a good life, and you feel paralyzed by the actions from your past. They keep you from taking healthy risks in your personal and professional life because you lack trust within yourself.

Not forgiving yourself can affect your decision-making skills, as well as your interpersonal skills.

Forgiving yourself can be done. There are simple steps you can take to accept forgiveness of yourself and accept the positive things life has to offer. Keep reading to learn what you can start doing today to forgive yourself.

Here is how to forgive yourself and move forward.

Let it Out

Sometimes it is hard to forgive yourself for past actions because they are kept hidden, a secret to everyone else. Keeping secrets can affect your mental and physical health. They also keep you focused on the negative action you made that is making you feel so badly today.

Do not keep secrets. Instead, tell someone you trust, like a friend or counselor, who can help you maintain a realistic viewpoint on your past actions. Meaning, you may be placing too much importance on the event, or not enough.

For instance, you may have hurt someone’s feelings, but you are punishing yourself as if you had ruined their life. Make sure your thoughts and feelings of remorse match the incident. Then you can begin to accept your actions.

Accept Your Past Actions

The past is out of your control. You cannot change it. The only thing you can change is how you think about the past. If you constantly think about negative past actions, you give those thoughts power. You may feel as if you deserve to feel punished in some way.

This may be why you avoid forgiving yourself, to right the wrong in some way. Only, this way will only make things worse.

One of the best ways to move on is to let go. Past actions are just that, past. You must learn to accept the past and then make a commitment to not repeating those actions when possible.

Say to yourself, “Yes, I messed up.  So, what can I do to make it right?” Then focus on making it right rather than beating yourself up.

Make it Right

Forgiving yourself can happen much easier if you can make things right, or right enough, to move forward. Making it right can mean apologizing to someone or replacing something. It can mean fixing a problem you created.  Finding a solution to the problem to make it right moving forward. 

Even if your attempts at making amends is not accepted by the other person involved, the fact that you tried can offer relief. Do not place expectations on the person to whom you are making amends. They may not be ready to accept your offer of amends and that is okay.

Simply focus on what you need to do, feel good about your actions, and move on.

Your intentions behind an action can have just as much power as the action itself. If you try to resolve a past matter, your intentions are good. You can feel good about your efforts and release the thoughts and feelings attached to that situation.

Get Help Analyzing Your Emotions

Your emotions are a key factor in whether you forgive yourself or not. These same negative emotions can prevent you from moving forward.

Getting to the root of your emotions can be very beneficial, helping you determine if they are realistic and if not, learning how to overcome them so you can move on.

Working with a mental health professional is a great way to evaluate and understand your emotions. They are trained to assess your needs, discuss issues from your past that may be hindering you today, and teach you how to turn negative emotions into positive ones, and to forgive yourself.

Use it For Good

Moving forward is much easier when you learn to use what you have learned for the good in your future. Every past mistake offers a teachable moment with a lesson we can implement in the future. They teach us what not to do or say, our likes and dislikes, how to make better decisions.

Allow your past mistakes to shape your future goals, values and beliefs. Find the good in each negative experience. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, focus on what you can do different next time. Reorganize your priorities to avoid repeating past mistakes.


In conclusion, do not try to be perfect. Instead, strive to be being mindful of both your needs and needs of others.

Choose to be present, not stuck in the past. Be engaged in everything going on now so you can start planning your future and all the exciting rewards it has to offer, and that you deserve.