Why Forgiving Yourself Helps You Make Peace with Your Past

Mar 22, 2024

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, Mirror, mirror on the wall, how did I end up here after all?” 

Life can throw us some serious curveballs sometimes. You might find yourself facing challenges you never expected or caught in situations you wish you could erase. When this happens, it's easy to beat yourself up and agonize over how things 'should' be different.

But here's the thing - no amount of self-blame will change the past. Dwelling on what-ifs and should-haves will only make you feel worse. So today, let's talk about how to make peace with where you are, even if it's not where you pictured yourself being. This is the art of self-forgiveness.

I'll share some practical tips on how to stop judging yourself so harshly and start extending the same compassion to yourself that you would to a close friend. Hopefully, you’re a good friend, and your inner critic doesn’t ooze out on them, right?

You'll learn how freeing yourself from regret and resentment can help you move forward to create the life you want. So, leave those judgy feelings behind and get ready to forgive yourself! You deserve it.

 

“Everyone makes mistakes. The wise are not people who never make mistakes, but those who forgive themselves and learn from their mistakes.” - Ajahn Brahm

 

In this blog, you’ll learn:

  • Why self-forgiveness is so important for your mental and physical health
  • How holding onto grudges harms you and your relationships
  • The many benefits of making peace with yourself
  • How to have more self-compassion and stop beating yourself up
  • Practical strategies to let go of regret and resentment
  • How freeing yourself makes you kinder to others
  • An inspiring story of a couple doing the work of forgiveness

 

We all have those little pockets of resentment towards ourselves. You know, those nagging inner voices that make us our own worst critic. 

  • "I can't believe I screwed up again!" 
  • "I'm so clumsy and awkward." 

 

 

But holding grudges against ourselves only hurts us in the end. Here’s the thing. Holding a grudge against ourselves is like saying, “I should have known something I didn’t know, so I hold a grudge against myself, stay frozen in time, and never take a chance again.”  Fun times, right? 

Funny thing about self-resentment - we often don't realize how much it shapes our attitude toward others! When we're down on ourselves, it comes out in little ways - being supercritical over a typo or stressing about accidentally offending someone. We beat ourselves up in all kinds of creative ways!

You've probably heard "Forgiveness is for you, not them." When you resent someone else, it's like drinking poison hoping they'll suffer.  This phrase always irritates me because forgiveness can be filled with dread and pain, and it’s not like forgiving yourself is easy.

But no one's on a set timeline here. If you're in pain, it's okay to tell your nerves, "This healing will take as long as it takes." Don't force it or fake it. The goal is real, lasting change. Faking closure or indifference doesn't truly help us move forward. 

Rushing forgiveness helps no one. Don't pretend to be over things you're not. That's a disservice to yourself! This is a journey to integrate and love every part of yourself - even the prickly bits. 

I want to take a second to explain why self-forgiveness really matters for our overall well-being.

 

When we're holding onto resentment, it makes it so much harder to tap into our intuition and inner wisdom. It creates static that muffles our connection with our highest selves and purpose. Unresolved feelings also keep us from being fully present. Instead, we self-soothe in unhealthy ways like:

  • stress eating
  • drinking too much
  • immersing yourself in social media

 

Being at peace with yourself makes it so much easier to live in each moment mindfully. But the constant self-judgment creates mental clutter. Research confirms that holding grudges literally impacts our bodies by:

  • raising blood pressure
  • increasing stress
  • spiking cortisol
  • disrupting sleep

 

A lot of this loops back to the gap between who we are and who we think we should be. Letting go of an imaginary standard is so freeing. If we are constantly weighing ourselves based on something intangible that we can’t even see, we’ll never be able to move on and heal.  

 

Some of these benefits might be repetitive, but they're so important. 

  1. Self-forgiveness boosts self-esteem. Mistakes become learning experiences, not indictments of our character. "Good for me for trying, I can improve next time" beats self-blame.
  2. It strengthens the immune system. The static noise of criticizing yourself is draining. Imagining we are always on our own team lets our bodies relax and heal.
  3. We feel more joy and peace when we let go of grudges. Grudges means we think people, including ourselves, are supposed to be different then who they are.  Walking around with a clip board evaluating folks is accidently arrogant. (Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean we need to still be around people who harmed us).
  4. When you stop fearing failure, it's easier to take risks and grow. Forgiving yourself for not starting off as an expert makes things easier.  Feeling embarrassed to be seen as new will slow you down.  Having a beginner's mind is fun and full of dopamine after all!
  5. The more we have self-compassion the more we extend it to others. We become the person people feel safe to be around because they don’t feel judged. As cheesy as it sounds, forgiving yourself projects and inner ease, and it helps the vibration of the world. 

 

This inner ease mindset makes it easier to be around new people, travel, and connect with others, as your vibration is not focused on punishing yourself. 

You will find people don’t irritate you as much, and the need to control your environment to avoid feeling deficient or bad about yourself diminishes. Phew!  Saves so many energy coins, am I right?

 

Research shows that individuals who have done forgiveness work:

  • can achieve higher vertical jumps than those who haven't
  • have an energetic lightness 
  • have a sense of feeling weightless in the world
  • are less likely to procrastinate because the pursuit doesn't hinge on perfection
  • commit to doing the best they can

 

We all carry around our version of forgiveness baggage. You can spot unresolved forgiveness in the wild by not taking action, looking out for persistent anger, a knack for playing morally superior, or maybe even a flair for pettiness and sarcasm. And, it’s really a red flag when we are gossiping or talking down to others. It's like forgiveness is this VIP party, and we're all just trying to get past the bouncer.

We all need to forgive ourselves for different things based on our life experiences. 

 

Signs that forgiveness is still a work in progress include:

  • Being easily angered or feeling chronically wronged
  • Lashing out or talking down to people
  • Compulsively needing to explain yourself
  • Struggling to fit in and wanting to control your environment
  • Self-loathing
  • Tensing up when others don't conform to your preferences

 

And forgiveness definitely doesn't mean bypassing or trivializing major traumas like violations, rape, or beatings. Feel your anger and pain fully. But don't let cruelty or violence define you forever. 

 

Forgiveness In Action: Scott and David’s Story 

Let me tell you about a couple I worked with, Scott and David (not their real names), to illustrate forgiveness in action.

After 15 years of marriage, Scott had an 8-month affair. As you can imagine, this devastated David when he found out. The hurt and anger rolling off of him was palpable. For anyone who has experienced being cheated on, this level of betrayal is intensely painful. For months, David rightfully unleashed his resentment. He vilified Scott relentlessly. That simmering contempt lingered like a dark cloud in the room, with no signs of lifting.

What finally allowed a shift was Scott's ability to fully own his actions. Without impatience or defensiveness, he let David voice years of accumulated rage. Scott weathered those stormy emotions with understanding.

Recognizing they were stuck, I met with each individually to explore their history with forgiveness. What came up for David was a lifelong pattern of betrayal, with both parents and past partners being unfaithful. Over time, he'd come to dismiss affairs as other people's problems. But Scott's affair triggered all that cumulative hurt - it couldn't be minimized or ignored. 

Scott's background revealed a longing for emotional connection, having felt overlooked in a large family. This slowly eroded his self-worth and led him to seek validation elsewhere. By shining light on these patterns, over time, they forgave themselves and their families. The energy between them started to shift. They could address the affair's impact with open hearts, not harbor blame.

David said it finally felt safe to be vulnerable and honest together. They acknowledged the pain but also expressed love and commitment to healing. Forgiving himself was key for Scott to approach this process with care, not defensiveness. David took responsibility for his part too. They chose understanding over judgment.

This story shows how self-forgiveness can transform even strained relationships when we lead with compassion. 

 

 

Tips for Self-Forgiveness:

  • Be your own best friend. Talk to yourself with kindness and understanding
  • Separate your actions from your identity. You are not defined by mistakes
  • Take responsibility without self-blame. "I can do better next time"
  • Put things in perspective. One moment doesn't determine your whole story
  • Release the need for perfection. Progress over perfection. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Observe feelings without judgment. 
  • Do loving-kindness meditations. Wish yourself peace. 
  • Rewrite your self-narrative. You are growing, not broken. 
  • Surround yourself with support. Ask for help when you struggle. 
  • Focus on the present. Let go of the unchangeable past

 

Would you like to be taken through the process of forgiveness and making peace with your past?  This information above is from my deep dive series called Reveal and Heal Obstacles to Your Success™. There you will find a step-by-step healing path to help you build a strong and resilient foundation to heal from your past and move through life with ease.

You can find Forgiveness - Making Peace with Your Past healing class in the Invoke and Release® Healing Circle

 

Forgive Yourself with Invoke and Release®

 

Now that we've explored the importance of self-forgiveness, it's time to put it into practice through Invoke and Release®. This healing process can help you:

  • Release resentment, regret, and judgment of yourself
  • Accept all your experiences with self-compassion
  • Invoke self-love, wisdom, and inner peace
  • Integrate disowned parts of yourself
  • Achieve greater self-acceptance and wholeness

 

Join the Invoke & Release® Healing Circle

 

Deepen your self-forgiveness journey by joining the Invoke & Release® Healing Circle. Receive guidance on:

  • Letting go of perfectionism and self-blame
  • Fostering self-love and self-acceptance
  • Overcoming your inner critic
  • Releasing limiting beliefs about yourself
  • Integrating all aspects of who you are



Important Links:

Reveal and Heal Obstacles to Your Success™

What is Invoke and Release®?

Invoke & Release® Healing Circle

Invoke and Release® website

 

Helpful Blogs:

Why is Healing Trauma Important

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