Forgive yourself: in 5 clear steps

Holding a grudge against yourself, going back to the past and reliving the situation over and over again, and not being able to forgive yourself, is a guarantee for feeling bad and being unhappy.

But making mistakes is not only human, it’s good.

Why this is so and how you can forgive yourself, that you will learn in the following lines.

Forgiving yourself: why you must not do that

Why should you not be allowed to forgive yourself??

There is a good explanation. Look at the society you grew up in:

The church starts right away with the original sin. So you are already to blame! Just like that.

And then learn phrases like:

"Punishment must be."

"You have sinned."

In our society, a "wrong behavior" is punished. It is seen as negative and whoever makes a mistake gets the blame.


Feelings of guilt and punishment are therefore closely linked to mistakes. In school we learn: Everything we do wrong is painted red. And red is bad. You have a lot of red on your paper: You are bad and guilty.

We then adopt this pattern quite automatically. There the faith creeps in fast:

"If I do something wrong, I am guilty and must be punished."

Forgiveness is far away at first. That comes later. Finally, according to this world view, atonement must first be made (i.e. no forgiveness without punishment).

If you want to forgive yourself, then detach yourself from this world view!

As long as you unconsciously think that you belong to be punished for your misbehavior, you will burden yourself with guilt and thus punish yourself.

Why making mistakes is good

Yes, there are mistakes that are allowed to be made.

And no, you don’t have to do everything wrong.

It’s like this: if you don’t take risks, you’re sitting deep in your comfort zone and you’re always just trying to do everything right.

And if you look at people who have built or accomplished something great in life, you will always find that these people have failed more than once. They have made mistakes.

To give a few examples: Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Abraham Lincoln, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Branson, Elon Musk or Oliver Stone.

Making mistakes, failing and making "wrong" decisions is not bad per se.

be able to forgive

On the contrary: If you do something wrong, you can learn from it. If you always do something right, you don’t.

Whoever makes a decision that does not lead to the desired result has had a new experience. He has learned something. And that is good!

The important thing then is the learning effect: What can I do differently next time??

So stop judging yourself for your mistakes. You only know afterwards that it was a mistake because you made it. If you had not made it, you would not be any smarter today.

And many of these "everyday self-condemnations" stem from just that. These are then fast sentences in the head, like:

"Oh, man, I wish I had done it differently."

"Man am I stupid. How can you be so stupid."

These two key points are very important to make it easier for you to forgive yourself.

To summarize:

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes (you don’t have to be punished for it).

2. You can learn from your mistakes and that is good.

If you stick to this, you will have to forgive yourself much less, because you will judge yourself less from the very beginning.

But what about the "really bad things"??

Ok, ok, whoever messes up an exam can close that quickly (and that’s exactly what the above explanations help for).

Then, of course, there are the extremes: When a really big damage has been done to people.

That’s where "making mistakes is good" is very out of place.

There it is about completely different things.

But here, too, if you have made a mistake that may have caused a problem, you should. If you have caused great suffering, it will not be better if you suffer yourself.

If you plague yourself for years with feelings of guilt (thus punishing yourself), no one is helped by it!

Here the first point applies again: Punishment will not make the guilt go away. You do not need punishment! You can forgive yourself just like that.

And here is very important: to forgive does not mean to approve of something!

Many people think this unconsciously:

"If I forgive myself for this, then I put the seriousness of this misfortune into perspective."

But that is not true. A bad thing does not become better if you feel guilty. And if you forgive yourself, you will feel better. Nevertheless, you can still show the appropriate dignity to what you forgive yourself for.

How to forgive yourself

You have either done something bad or you condemn yourself for every little mistake?

With the following steps you can forgive yourself.

1. Admit the mistake/the problem to yourself

This is the basic prerequisite when it comes to forgiveness. If you don’t see the mistake or the problem, you won’t be able to change it.

It’s like an addict. If he does not admit that he is an addict, he cannot change it. That is impossible.

So if you (unconsciously) judge yourself for something, admit that you did something wrong.

2. See your good sides

As the expert in this field Prof. Dr. Luise Reddemann says, it is very important to perceive yourself as a whole.

forgive yourself

This means that if you admit to having made a mistake, you should not condemn yourself as a person, but at the same time also see the good sides of yourself.

For you this means: If you do something wrong and notice how you start to judge yourself for it, look consciously and focused at your strengths and positive sides of yourself.

Say to yourself things like: "OK, now I have made a mistake. But still I am very loving and tolerant and good with people."

3. Write it down

If you want to forgive yourself, then do it in writing. Write a letter to yourself, in which you let everything out again.

And then forgive yourself and leave this story behind you.

4. Be good to yourself

And when you have forgiven yourself, be good to yourself. Comfort yourself.

Deal with yourself as if comforting someone else.

5. Arrive in the present and look into the future

It is important to let go of the past. Because if you spend all your time thinking about the past and possibly feeling guilty about something long gone, you are only harming yourself (remember: you don’t need punishment). You can forgive yourself).

Let go and come back to the present. Look into the future and see how you can make the best of it.

If you think you should never be happy again after something bad has happened, you are wrong!

You can finish with the past in dignity and turn to the future with joy.


If you have done something bad, then that is what happened. Point. You have the choice to torture yourself for the rest of your life and walk around with guilt or to give yourself the chance to forgive yourself and still appreciate the event.

Let go of old mistakes, forgive yourself. You are the greatest asset to humanity if you live a happy life!

You can also get more joy in life in my free course for more self-confidence.

You might also be interested in this:

Learn positive thinking in 5 steps (+comparison of studies)

Training willpower – in 5 simple steps (scientifically tested!)

Overcoming fear – this is how you dissolve your fears in 5 steps

Dissolve self-boycott – how to leave self-sabotage behind forever (in 7 steps)!)

How do I know that it has worked out?? That I have forgiven myself? I had a handicapped daughter 7 years ago. In the first 5 hours after the diagnosis (she was 14 days old) I suddenly and irrevocably had the thought: If you had the choice – you would have had an abortion.
IN THE SAME MOMENT I am frightened of myself. How can you think like that! Later I apologized in front of myself. Trying to forget to do my best to make my daughter well. Nevertheless, it has not let go of me apparently, so that I realize in the therapy (because of depressions) now after 7 years again how much guilt I feel for it. Now I have just left a lot of tears and also read the article with the subconscious. I know, actually from the mind, that my thoughts were normal/understandable/ trying to take the easiest path. Only I don’t know how to get there to me.
When will I realize if I have forgiven myself for it?? When it no longer hurts.? Or should I no longer get into it? Or am I just repressing again?

you feel it, whenever you deal with the issue, it’s like a relief, even if you have these negative thoughts.

Thank you for this text!

I once started a fight with my boyfriend and lost him that way. He then told me that he does not want to have a relationship with me. Of course I know that he was probably not in love with me, but I suffered a lot and blamed myself for starting this fight. I was really struggling. Played the situation over and over again, thought about what would have happened if..
Now I have a new boyfriend (since 2years) and I am very afraid that I will "do something wrong" again, that I will lose him, that I will be left because I do not behave adequately. As a result, I avoid every quarrel, apologize for everything, suffer at the slightest incident as if everything is over because I am afraid that he no longer loves me. I rarely say when something is bothering me or I’m not feeling well, and if I do, I feel like I regret it afterwards and have this fear that I’ll be abandoned because I’m not in a good mood, cool, relaxed, etc. I do not know what to do.

I have great difficulty with the concept of "forgiving". What is meant by this? Pretending that nothing has happened? Or force oneself not to feel resentment anymore? Is it good to tamper with one’s feelings in this way? Or try to make things undone? It doesn’t work anyway, forgiveness doesn’t undo a thing.

If I pretend to myself that my mistake never happened, then I am "giving away" the chance to learn something from my mistake. A guilty conscience and intense reflection do no harm, it increases the learning effect.

I also do not ask for forgiveness. If an injured party is angry with me, then that’s the way it is and he has every right to be. I must not force him to turn off his feelings towards me. The most I can offer is reparation. And I can tell the injured party that I am sorry. With it I express only my own feelings. But I do not force him to somehow take the blame off me, because that is not possible for him at all.

If one wants to live out the concept of forgiveness consistently, then one would also have to forgive the good deeds. I should not react to the good deed and I should not return the favor. That would also apply to my good deeds. I should never "hold up" my good deeds to myself again, nor be proud of them…

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