How to Master the art of Self-Forgiveness

Exercising self-compassion and empathy helps boost happiness.

Woman sitting on a mountain top peacefully gazing at clouds

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Imagine how good it would feel if when people made mistakes they learned to act with kindness and compassion towards themselves instead of being critical and acting as their own worst enemy. Learning to accept and forgive past mistakes and act with self-directed empathy can be the key to developing a healthier sense of self.

WebMd reports that when people refuse to let go of their previous shortcomings they can end up with increased stress levels and are prone to becoming resentful and angry. But according to Stanford University’s BeWell the antidote to this is self-forgiveness.

“Self-forgiving people recognize that a lack of self-forgiveness leads to suffering.  They are kind to themselves, which reduces their anxiety and related depression,” Carole Pertofsky, MEd told BeWell.

“We develop and internalize many misgivings about self-forgiveness, fearing that if we don’t judge ourselves harshly, then we’ll become lazy, incompetent or unsuccessful. The reality is that this belittling mindset sabotages our efforts to lead fulfilling, meaningful and happy lives,” Pertofsky added.

Owning previous mistakes
Psychology Today reports that in order for people to forgive themselves for past blunders they need to own those acts and take responsibility for any damage done or pain that might have been caused to others. 

It is important to try to understand and be honest as to what the root cause of the behavior was and how to make sure not to repeat it. The next step is to offer a sincere apology to anyone who was harmed, attempt to right the wrong that was done and then to move on and forgive themselves for acting that way.

Compassion and self care
Pertofsky advocates for people who seek to forgive themselves for past mistakes to engage in meticulous self care and compassion. By being kind to themselves they will learn to accept themselves even in a flawed state and will come to recognize that self-forgiveness is a process that requires patience and persistence. 

Patience and acceptance
According to BeWell, unfortunately sometimes it is not possible to make amends for mistakes. That is the time to accept that human beings are imperfect. Instead of reverting to self blame, it is better to act with empathy, face personal weaknesses, see what can be learned from the situation and most importantly focus on changing the behavior for the future. 

“Learning to be self-forgiving is a skill that requires practice. Over time, you will notice that you are more relaxed, open and happy. You will be able to notice and appreciate how much pleasure can be found in a simple moment, how much there is to be grateful for in everyday life, and how much the world needs you and your special gifts and talents,” Pertofsky told BeWell. 

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