New Resolution for 2013 – How to Forgive Yourself.

It’s easy to say, but so much harder to actually do! We all mess up, and normally, we make mistakes every single day. Some mess-ups are minor – spilling grape juice on the white couch, missing an appointment, or even being late to work. But then some are major issues, such as lashing out at a loved one, or even having self-destructive behaviors.

And with those latter mistakes often come overwhelming feelings of guilt. Shame. Self-condemnation. Humiliation. Counselors and life coaches have found that these emotions can lead to stress, depression, anxiety disorders, and even heart disease if ignored.[1] Not exactly leading to a joyous 2013.

Forgive. We’ve all heard the word before, but what does it mean? And why is it so important?
Dr. Frederick Luskin at Standford University reports that “learning to forgive helps people hurt less, experience less anger, feel less stress and suffer less depression. People who learn to forgive report significantly fewer symptoms of stress such as backache, muscle tension, dizziness, headaches and upset stomachs. In addition people report improvements in appetite, sleep patterns, energy and general well being.”[2]

But why is self-forgiveness so hard if it seems so easy?

Too often, we want to punish ourselves for past mistakes, as if we could somehow “make up” the wrong that we’ve done. We walk through the day in guilt and shame. We think of ourselves as losers, chained to the past mistakes we have made, holding onto the hurt, and letting no one close to our issues.

The negative emotions we feel gnaw away at our joy and satisfaction in life.

Counselors and life coaches report that the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Not the friend who backstabbed you. Or the dad that wasn’t there for you. Or even the ex who broke your heart. Why? Because you know yourself and you live with yourself every day. Go figure.
If you feel stuck in the rut of your past failures, try these tips for embracing forgiveness:

What can you do?

Seek Forgiveness and Forgive Yourself

    • Talk about it.

When it comes to the past, silence can be deadly. So stop pretending. Free yourself from the bondage of holding it all in. Talk about what’s tearing you apart inside. Express the emotions you feel to a counselor, mentor, or friend you can trust. Join a community group in your local area. Forgiveness starts with being honest and vulnerable about who you are…the good and the bad. So say what you need to say. Most often, there is someone walking with the same struggles.

    • Be honest with yourself.

“If I just pretend it never happened, maybe it will all go away,” we tend to think. Sounds nice…but not true. Choose to break out of denial. Be honest about how you’ve messed up and the consequences of your behavior. Journal out the specific behaviors and actions that are causing you angst.

    • Seek Forgiveness.

This is a hard one. If you feel guilt or shame for something that you have done to someone else, the hardest yet most freeing thing your can do, is seek forgiveness from someone. Once you can accept that you have done something wrong, go seek forgiveness from the person you have offended. It is incredibly difficult, but the words, I am sorry, please forgive me? will go much further than you even imagined.

    • Accept it for what it is.

As an imperfect person, you will make mistakes in life. Face it. You will hurt people sometimes. You will have regrets. It’s part of living in a fallen world. Don’t wallow in your mistakes, do something about them and seek forgiveness.

Tired of living as a prisoner? Make the choice today to forgive yourself and seek forgiveness.

[1]Dr. Frederick Luskin, Research from Standford University,
[3]Lewis B. Smedes