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Outlooks & Setbacks Saturdays

Peace & Forgiveness

Steps To Forgiving Yourself

If you’ve really messed something up that you are having a hard time forgiving yourself for, it can be very challenging to know how to move forward.

I’ve been a life and weight loss coach for women for many years now, and I have worked with many women who are angry at themselves for their weight. They just can’t seem to let it go. 

But forgiveness, in my opinion, is a key to moving forward.

After working with many women, I developed a 4 step process for forgiving yourself. It’s a simple process, but not an easy one. It’s also a process that you will likely have to do over and over again because I believe that forgiveness is a process, not a one-and-done type of thing. 

Our thoughts of disdain, anger and frustration don’t just instantly go away the moment we decide to forgive - we have to choose to keep letting it go over and over again.

So here’s my 4 step process:

  1. Accept where you are at. This can be extremely challenging because we often don’t want to acknowledge an area where things are not as we want them to be. Weight loss is an easy example of this because it can be hard to accept your current reality - it’s not what you want or what you would wish for. But it is the reality. Once we can acknowledge and accept it (that doesn’t mean liking it!), then we can move forward.

  2. Forgive yourself. This part means giving yourself some grace. Recognize that you are not perfect and you will continue to make mistakes - it’s all part of life. Say the words to yourself “I forgive you” - even if it is hard and even if you don’t really believe it to begin with. This is part of the process that you will probably have to do over and over again. Start small and work at giving yourself grace

  3. Surrender the journey. You might not be a person of faith so this step might look a little different to each of us. You might surrender the journey to God or to a higher power. You might surrender the journey by getting outside in nature or meditating. The point is recognizing that there are things outside of us that are bigger than us and when we can see outside of ourselves, it can help to put things into perspective.

  4. Move forward. This is where many people get stuck because it can be challenging to know how to move forward in your journey. It’s all about small baby steps - not about moving mountains. Find one small area of action today that you KNOW you can accomplish and do it. One small step in the right direction will help you to get some momentum going.

That’s it - it’s simple but not easy as I said before. If you are struggling to forgive yourself, I would encourage you to give it a try!

Recommended Book


Jul 02, 2014
ISBN: 9781609415518

Interesting Fact #1

If you make a mistake and continue to struggle with letting it go, acknowledge out loud what you learned from the mistake, says Jordan Pickell, MCP, RCC. When you give a voice to the thoughts in your head and the emotions in your heart, you may free yourself from some of the burdens. You also imprint in your mind what you learned from your actions and consequences.


Interesting Fact #2

Reminding ourselves that we did the best we could with the tools and knowledge we had at the time, will help us forgive ourselves and move forward.


Interesting Fact #3

If the mistake you made hurt another person, you need to determine the best course of action. Do you want to talk to this person and apologize? Is it important to reconcile with them and make amends? If you’re on the fence about what to do, you might want to consider making amends. This goes beyond saying sorry to a person you’ve hurt. Instead, try to fix the mistake you’ve made. One study found that forgiving ourselves for hurting another is easier if we first make amends.


Quote of the day

“I have learned, that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself "That's just fine". You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don't even see those things anymore. Because that's what love is like.” ― C. JoyBell C.

Article of the day - How to Forgive Yourself

Forgiveness is often defined as a deliberate decision to let go of feelings of anger, resentment, and retribution toward someone who you believe has wronged you. However, while you may be quite generous in your ability to forgive others, you may be much harder on yourself.

Everyone makes mistakes, but learning how to learn from these errors, let go, move on, and forgive yourself is important for mental health and well-being.1

Peterson SJ, Van Tongeren DR, Womack SD, Hook JN, Davis DE, Griffin BJ. The benefits of self-forgiveness on mental health: Evidence from correlational and experimental researchJ Posit Psychol. 2017;12(2):159-168. doi:10.1080/17439760.2016.1163407

 Discovery why self-forgiveness can be beneficial and explore some steps that may help you learn how to forgive yourself.

How to forgive yourself

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Learning How to Forgive Yourself

Self-forgiveness is not about letting yourself off the hook, nor is it a sign of weakness. The act of forgiveness, whether you are forgiving yourself or someone who has wronged you, does not suggest that you are condoning the behavior. To forgive yourself, you should:

  1. Understand your emotions
  2. Accept responsibility for what happened
  3. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion
  4. Express remorse for your mistakes
  5. Make amends and apologize (including apologizing to yourself)
  6. Look for ways to learn from the experience
  7. Focus on making better choices in the future

Forgiveness means that you accept the behavior, you accept what has happened, and you are willing to move past it and move on with your life without ruminating over past events that cannot be changed.2 One therapeutic approach to self-forgiveness suggests that four key actions can be helpful.3

The 4 R's of Self-Forgiveness

  1. Responsibility
  2. Remorse
  3. Restoration
  4. Renewal

 The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain.

Understand Your Emotions

Becoming aware of the emotions you are experiencing is an important part of learning to forgive yourself. Research has found that identifying and labeling your emotion can help reduce the intensity of your feelings.4 This can help you better regulate emotions, including those linked to feelings of guilt and shame.

Accept Responsibility for Your Actions

Forgiving yourself is about more than just putting the past behind you and moving on. It is about accepting what has happened and showing compassion to yourself.5

Facing what you have done or what has happened is the first step toward self-forgiveness. It's also the hardest step. If you have been making excuses, rationalizing, or justifying your actions in order to make them seem acceptable, it is time to face up and accept what you have done.

By taking responsibility and accepting that you have engaged in actions that have hurt others, you can avoid negative emotions, such as excessive regret and guilt.

Treat Yourself With Kindness and Compassion

Forgiving yourself requires confronting your actions and showing remorse for what happened, but it is important to approach this with self-compassion. The key is to treat yourself with the same kindness that you would show to another person. Try to avoid being self-critical and instead be compassionate while still acknowledging that you made a mistake and want to do better in the future.

Express Remorse for Your Mistakes

As a result of taking responsibility, you may experience a range of negative feelings, including guilt and shame. When you've done something wrong, it's completely normal, even healthy, to feel guilty about it. These feelings of guilt and remorse can serve as a springboard to positive behavior change.6

While guilt implies that you're a good person who did something bad, shame makes you see yourself as a bad person. This can bring up feelings of worthlessness which, left unresolved, can lead to addictiondepression, and aggression.7 Understand that making mistakes that you feel guilty about does not make you a bad person or undermine your intrinsic value.

 What Are Shame and Guilt? How Are They Different?

Make Amends and Apologize

Making amends is an important part of forgiveness, even when the person you are forgiving is yourself. Just as you might not forgive someone else until they've made it up to you in some way, forgiving yourself is more likely to stick when you feel like you've earned it.

One way to move past your guilt is to take action to rectify your mistakes.8 Apologize if it is called for and look for ways that you can make it up to whomever you have hurt.

It may seem as if this portion of the process benefits only the person you've harmed, but there's something in it for you as well. Fixing your mistake means you'll never have to wonder if you could have done more.

 How to Apologize Sincerely and Effectively

Learn From the Experience

Everyone makes mistakes and has things for which they feel sorry or regretful. Falling into the trap of rumination, self-hatred, or even pity can be damaging and make it difficult to maintain your self-esteem and motivation.

Forgiving yourself often requires finding a way to learn from the experience and grow as a person.9 To do this, you need to understand why you behaved the way you did and why you feel guilty. What steps can you take to prevent the same behaviors again in the future? Yes, you might have messed up, but it was a learning experience that can help you make better choices in the future.

Try to Do Better

Forgiving yourself also means making an active effort to do better in the future. As you approach similar situations, reflect on how you felt about your past mistakes. Rather than feeling guilty about those past errors, remind yourself about what you learned and how you can use that knowledge and experience to guide your actions going forward.

Question of the day - What is something you have struggled to forgive yourself for?

Peace & Forgiveness

What is something you have struggled to forgive yourself for?