How to Forgive and Accept Yourself

January 31, 2020

An abstract painting of three identical faces fused together - life past, present, future.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

How can we be more content with mistakes we made in the past? How can we stop our present from being affected by them? How can we have a flourishing and fulfilling future despite self-deprecating memories?

I’m going to talk about five different ways, or perspectives, you can integrate into your daily life that will help you make peace with your past.

When we make a mistake, when we make the wrong choice or when we do something wrong, we endure negative self-talk, blame and regret for many days to come. There is absolutely nothing beneficial about that–a lot of pain, no gain.

An abstract painting of three identical faces fused together - life past, present, future.

Untitled by Anita Wexler

These steps are all about getting to a state of acceptance and showing ourselves some compassion; no matter how sad it sounds, the truth is that, most of the time, we are our own worst critics and we tend to put ourselves down most of the time. It would do us all good to focus on the present and future more than the past.

Step 1

Think of something you did in the past. Revisit an event or a period in your life in which you now feel that you made a mistake, or did something you now regret. While thinking about it, try to introduce a new idea; tell yourself: I did the best I could at the time (ATT)–remember that acronym, let it become your new best friend.

You did the best you could ATT and this is the truth. Maybe at that time, you gave it your best but something you envisioned didn’t work out. The situation was out of your control.

You can also reframe this idea–”I did what I thought was right ATT.” We are constantly changing and growing and even if, now, you would absolutely choose a different outcome or would make a different decision in the same situation, you didn’t know better back then. You had a different perspective; you were younger and not as wise as you are now. You thought you knew it all or at least you thought you were doing the right thing. Picture your younger self exclaiming to your judgmental, current self: “You don’t know my life!”

Embrace this perspective now. There is no reason to blame yourself or regret your decisions. You have done the best you could. Sure, you know it wasn’t ideal now, but you cannot change it. Accept your past miscalculations by noticing and realizing that you were somebody else back then. You are not that person any longer, or we wouldn’t even be having this conversation: i.e., you wouldn’t be reading this.

Step 2

Know that perfection is not a goal worth pursuing. The aim is not to avoid mistakes or failures altogether. Life is not perfect and none of us are born perfect. You simply cannot expect that from yourself if you don’t want to be perpetually disappointed.

We all have a different perspective as to what our lives should look like and as to what they should entail. However, in my experience, beauty lies in imperfection. Failures and mistakes are what sprout new growth. These experiences are what make us better human beings. If you are trying to be perfect all the time, how can you accept your mistakes that are just natural to life? How can you practice self-acceptance if, every time you stray from the path of perfection, you are that much harder on yourself? Know that there are going to be mistakes and plenty of hard times ahead no matter how much you prepare–and that’s okay! Simply know that that is how life is supposed to be.

Step 3

Think about the things you can change right away in order to feel more satisfied and happy with your life, with your current situation. Look for ways to make yourself feel better straightaway. What would you change today? Look in the mirror and think it over. Maybe it is as simple as changing what you are wearing; or, maybe you would feel better if you changed your hairstyle?

It can also be something that would make you feel more connected and loved. Maybe you haven’t spoken to your family for a really long time? Give them a call!

Look for the things you are dissatisfied with at the moment and introduce action in order to solve it. The very first step to minimize dissatisfaction in life is to have an action plan! Note that there are problems, but more importantly that there are things we can do about them. Know that you have the power to solve these problems. Believing that will make you much more self-accepting.

So, if there are quick and easy things you can do, do them right now. Now you’ve got some momentum behind you. If you have a long-term action plan, write it down and implement it systematically.

Step 4

Look for positives in your past and present. We all know that it is so much easier to notice all that is negative. In fact, we tend to focus our attention on negativity. Look at what’s on our news–negative news sells! If you really think about it though, there must be a lot of good around you, as well as in your past. Think about the time when you have faced a difficult problem or times where you were really proud of yourself–alternatively, maybe a moment when you were truly happy.

Realize that you have made it really far, that you have done things in your life that make you worthy of love, worthy of others accepting you and worthy of you accepting you. You should realize deep within your being that you are worthy, that you deserve to be here, that you are good enough to be loved, especially by yourself.

Step 5

You are unique. Think about all the special ways you express yourself. Remember that there is no one else like you in the entire universe. You have been given your body, mind, and soul and it is like no one else’s! What is something only you can do or offer to this world? Is there some strange talent that you have? What do you really like about yourself?

Please note, that answers to these questions can be really simple. We do not have to play the comparison game. For example, you and your friend both play the guitar. You might think that your friend plays the guitar better than you do. However, this is not the perspective you want to adopt. Think this: you play the guitar differently than your friend does. You do not have to compare and get on the same level as everyone else. Competitiveness is common in our society, yet very unhealthy.

Self-acceptance and self-love are all about knowing that you specifically have something to offer. So think about all the little things that are unique about you and what you really like about yourself and write them all down.

Most importantly, I encourage you to remember that you are not alone, who’s struggling with self-acceptance and self-love. Life is complicated and we are all the same in doubting ourselves.

We all suffer moments in which we lack self-love. You are definitely not unique in this. That is why working on self-improvement and self-growth is a lifetime practice.

Remember, in order to better your life and experience more self-love and self-acceptance, you need to practice daily (weekly) for the rest of your life; don’t be intimidated though; I encourage you to start with five steps above and after thirty days, your practice will become habitual and increasingly effortless.

At Caring Nature, that is exactly what we facilitate. We provide you with personalized therapeutic tools to suit your specific needs so that you can successfully overcome any struggles in your life, from mental to physical concerns. We are here. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

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Benjamin Eisenstein Miller

I read this right when I needed to hear it. Thank you for the “ATT” reminder Yogi!

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