How To Forgive Yourself 2024: Tips For Self-Forgiveness

how to forgive yourself

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how to forgive yourself
How to forgive yourself for something unforgivable. Photo: Phuong Thanh

Forgiving yourself can be one of the most challenging tasks you may face. We all make mistakes, but often it’s harder to forgive ourselves than forgive someone else. The weight of guilt and shame can weigh heavily on us, causing negative emotions and ultimately hindering our progress toward a healthy and fulfilling life. But it’s important to remember that self-forgiveness is possible, and it’s a crucial step towards healing and moving forward. It requires self-compassion, accepting responsibility, and taking steps to make amends. It’s a process that can lead to a sense of inner peace and personal growth.

This article will explore tips and techniques for forgiving yourself, even when it seems impossible. We’ll discuss the importance of self-compassion and how to develop it, the healing process, and the health benefits of self-forgiveness. With these tools and techniques, you can begin to let go of the past, heal from negative feelings, and move forward toward a brighter future.

The Best Ways To Forgive Yourself

  • Don’t Try To Evade Guilt
  • Mistake As A Learning Experience
  • Avoid Negative Emotions
  • Practice Self-Compassion
  • Accept Responsibility And Make Amends
  • Focus On the Present
  • Seek Support
  • Remember That Forgiveness Is A Process

How To Forgive Yourself

how to forgive yourself
There are tips to forgive yourself effectively. Photo: Iryna Imago/Shutterstock

Don’t Try To Evade Guilt

When we’ve made a mistake, it’s common to want to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of guilt that can arise. However, attempting to push away or ignore our guilt can make it worse. It’s important to acknowledge and accept our feelings of guilt and understand that they are a natural and normal response to having done something wrong. Rather than trying to evade or ignore our guilt, we can learn to sit with it, explore it, and use it as motivation to make positive changes in our lives.

Mistake As A Learning Experience

One way to shift our perspective on mistakes is to view them as opportunities for growth and learning. When we make a mistake, we can choose to focus on what we’ve learned from the experience and how we can use that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. By reframing our mistakes this way, we can reduce feelings of shame and self-blame and move towards a more positive and productive mindset.

Avoid Negative Emotions

Forgiving oneself can be an emotionally charged process, and it’s important to take steps to manage and reduce negative emotions like anger, shame, and self-loathing. By learning to manage negative emotions[1] and cultivate positive ones, we can create a more supportive and compassionate internal dialogue, supporting our journey toward self-forgiveness. This might involve techniques like mindfulness, self-compassion, or seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional.

Practice Self-Compassion

One of the key elements of self-forgiveness is self-compassion[2]. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s okay to be imperfect. Practice treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and empathy, even in moments of difficulty or when you’ve made a mistake.

Accept Responsibility And Make Amends

Owning up to our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions is a critical part of self-forgiveness. If you’ve caused harm to someone, make amends in a way that feels authentic and meaningful. This might mean apologizing, making restitution, or taking action to prevent the same mistake from happening again in the future.

Focus On The Present

It’s important to acknowledge the past, but dwelling on it can hinder our ability to move forward. Try to focus on the present moment and take steps to create a positive future. Make plans for how you can make things right or what you can do differently in the future.

Seek Support

Forgiving oneself can be a challenging process. Seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional can provide perspective, guidance, and encouragement along the way.

Remember That Forgiveness Is A Process

Forgiving oneself[3] is rarely a one-time event but rather a process that unfolds over time. Be patient and kind with yourself as you navigate this journey, and celebrate even small victories along the way. With time and effort, you can learn to forgive yourself and move towards a more fulfilling life.

Self-Forgiveness Vs. Self Compassion

While self-forgiveness[4] and self-compassion are related concepts, they differ in important ways. Self-forgiveness involves accepting responsibility for past mistakes, expressing remorse, and making amends. It requires acknowledging the harm caused and taking steps to repair the damage done. On the other hand, self-compassion is about being kind and understanding towards oneself, particularly during difficult times. It’s about treating yourself with the compassion and care you would show a loved one. 

Self-compassion[5] involves recognizing that making mistakes is a natural part of being human and that everyone experiences difficult emotions. It requires cultivating a sense of inner peace and personal growth.

Both self-forgiveness and self-compassion are essential for psychological well-being. Without self-forgiveness, we may become mired in our own guilt, hindering our progress toward a fulfilling life. If we do not develop self-compassion, we may struggle with negative emotions and be unable to navigate life’s challenges effectively. By cultivating both self-forgiveness and self-compassion, we can learn from our mistakes, heal from bad person negative emotions, and move forward with a greater sense of inner peace and personal growth.

Difficulties In Forgiving Yourself

how to forgive yourself
Forgiving yourself is not always easy. Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

Forgiving yourself is not always easy and can present many difficulties. One of the biggest challenges in self-forgiveness is not evading guilt. While it may be tempting to push aside guilty feelings, it is important to fully allow yourself to experience these emotions. Doing so can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary for true self-forgiveness.

Another challenge is accepting past mistakes as a learning experience. Often, people are their worst critics and can be very hard on themselves for past mistakes. However, it is important to recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process, and it is through mistakes that we grow and develop as individuals.

It is common to feel overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and self-criticism. Additionally, avoiding negative emotions can be difficult when trying to forgive yourself. However, it is important to be self-compassionate and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that your past actions do not define you.

Overall, self-forgiveness is a process that requires patience and persistence. It can be challenging to face difficult emotions, accept past mistakes, and practice self-compassion, but it is a crucial step toward healing and moving forward in a positive direction.

Potential Drawbacks Of Forgiving Yourself

While forgiving oneself has numerous benefits, it is essential to note that there may also be potential drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks is that it may be challenging to truly let go of the guilt and shame[6] associated with past mistakes, even after attempting to forgive oneself. This can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and a lack of progress in the healing process. Additionally, some individuals may struggle with accepting responsibility for their actions, which can hinder the self-forgiveness process. 

Another potential drawback is that some individuals may view self-forgiveness as a form of self-indulgence or a way to avoid accountability for their actions. This can result in feelings of resentment or anger towards oneself. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that forgiveness is a complex process that may take time and effort. It is not always easy to forgive oneself, and it may require the support of a mental health professional or trusted friend to work through the difficulties that may arise.


In conclusion, self-forgiveness and self-compassion can be powerful therapies for healing and growth. By acknowledging past mistakes as learning experiences, avoiding negative emotions, and seeking support when necessary, individuals can begin to let go of feeling guilty and move towards a more positive and compassionate mindset. However, it is important to note that forgiving oneself is not always easy and may come with potential drawbacks, such as difficulty accepting responsibility or feelings of self-indulgence. It is crucial to approach self-forgiveness with patience, empathy, and a willingness to work through any challenges. With time and effort, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of self-acceptance and compassion, which can positively impact their mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is self-forgiveness?

Self-forgiveness is the act of accepting one’s mistakes and letting go of feelings of guilt or shame.

Why is self-forgiveness important?

Self-forgiveness is important for one’s mental and emotional well-being. It can lead to a greater sense of self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Is self-forgiveness the same as self-compassion?

While self-forgiveness and self-compassion are related, they are not the same thing. Self-forgiveness focuses on accepting past mistakes, while self-compassion focuses on showing oneself kindness and understanding in the present moment.

Can self-forgiveness be difficult?

Yes, self-forgiveness can be difficult for many reasons, including fear of repeating past mistakes or difficulty accepting responsibility for one’s actions.

How can one practice self-forgiveness?

Some ways to practice self-forgiveness include acknowledging past mistakes as learning experiences, avoiding negative self-talk, seeking support when needed, and working towards making amends.

Can self-forgiveness have negative effects?

While self-forgiveness can have many positive effects, it can also have negative effects if one uses it to avoid responsibility or justify harmful behavior.

Is it possible to forgive oneself for anything?

While forgiving oneself for certain actions may be more difficult than others, it is generally possible to work towards self-forgiveness in most situations.

Can self-forgiveness benefit relationships with others?

Yes, self-forgiveness can lead to a greater sense of compassion and understanding towards oneself and others, which can positively impact relationships.

+ 6 Sources

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  1. Stroking your Beloved One’s White Bear: Responsive Touch by the Romantic Partner Buffers the Negative Effect of Thought Suppression on Daily Mood | Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Published 2013. Accessed September 27, 2023.
  2.  Jocelyn Ann Grzybowski, Brinthaupt TM. Trait Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Self-Talk: A Correlational Analysis of Young Adults. Behavioral sciences. 2022;12(9):300-300. doi:
  3. Brémault‐Phillips S, Cherwick T, Smith-MacDonald L, Huh J, Vermetten E. Forgiveness: A Key Component of Healing From Moral Injury? Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2022;13. doi:‌
  4. Self–Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research | Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Published 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023.
  5.  Self-Compassion: Theory, Method, Research, and Intervention. Annual Reviews. Published 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023.
  6.  Shen L. The evolution of shame and guilt. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(7):e0199448-e0199448. doi:


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