6 Keys to Forgiving Yourself and Moving Forward

Have you ever made a mistake in your life that you have found unforgivable? 

Maybe you said something that hurt someone’s feelings so badly that the relationship is either forever scarred or is beyond repair.  Maybe you lost a job that you really liked.  Maybe you committed a misdemeanor or a felony.

Regardless of what you did  in the past that to this day you cannot forgive yourself for doing, don’t despair, there are a few things you can do to move on with your life.

Realize that you are not the only person who has made a mistake

Everyone has made mistakes in their lives – including me. 

I have made multiple poor financial decisions throughout my life, been stubborn and defiant instead of agreeable and cooperative, quick to anger instead of calm, and have spewed more hurtful words on social media than I care to count.

These “mistakes” have created unnecessary financial hardship on myself, expulsion from 2 schools and 2 colleges, loss of both new friends and lifelong friends, and a list of people and businesses that have permanently blocked me on social media.

Take ownership of your mistake

If you are blaming others for any shortcoming, missed opportunities, losses or mistakes in your life, you must stop it now! 

Sure, there are some cases where others may have contributed to the mistake that you are regretting. But ultimately you are responsible for every action, decision and even in-actions you make in your life.  Start owning your mistakes the same way you own your success. 

Once you accept your role in the loss of a friend, lover, job, opportunity, etc. you can begin the process of forgiving yourself.

Accept that you cannot change the past.

You can believe me when I say, I regret every mistake I have made in life.  I wish I could have a “do-over” but that is not possible.

Instead you must accept that the past cannot be changed.

Learn from your mistake

If you can look at the mistake that you made, that you own, and that you accept you cannot change. You are halfway there.  Now is the time to look at the mistake objectively.  Analyze what you did – or didn’t do – and why.  After you have looked at the decision or indecision from all angles, ask yourself what would you do if the same or similar situation occurred again in your life? 

Take your answers to these questions and formulate a plan that will serve you in the future.  I like to call the plan I have developed from the answers to the questions. A protocol that I should follow for future similar situations.  I also go a step further and make sure my protocol is in alignment with my values and fits into my definition of integrity.

Forgive yourself

This can be the hardest part.  Most of us are harder on ourselves that we are on other people.  We expect more from  ourselves, do not accept failure and lower the boom when we let ourselves down.

If you are one of those people who are harder on themselves than others, then you are not alone.  You need to remember that you are human, you are going to fail, make mistakes and choose poorly at times.  Start treating yourself as you treat others.  If you can forgive people who you love when they fail, then you should be that forgiving (if not more) with yourself.

Move forward

Stop looking back!  Start looking forward!

Take the lessons you have learned from your previous experiences in life and use them to make a better future (with fewer mistakes) for yourself!