5 Ways To Forgive Yourself for Past Negative Actions

By Jasmine L. Bennett

We all mess up.

Nobody’s perfect. Not even on our best day. We trip up, hurt people, disappoint ourselves, and stop short of making people happy. That’s normal. We’re all humans. If we’re all honest, we’ve all done stuff that we’re not proud of. Our lives are filled with good intentions, bad actions, hopeful moments, and deflating times.

In short, life is filled with ups and downs. Our past actions (even what we did yesterday) can shape the way we view ourselves. We can begin to believe that what happened a week ago is somehow more important than what we are doing today. The reality is, our present is the most important and the biggest opportunity of our lives.

But sometimes it can be hard to remember that. Our minds can get drowned with thoughts about how we could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done better. It looks like our past has more power over the present and we won’t ever be able to conquer the fear of disappointment in ourselves. That’s just not true.

If you’re thinking that you’ll never be able to triumph over your past mistakes. It’s possible. Every step you take in life doesn’t have to be haunted by the previous pitfalls you created. There’s always hope, even for the biggest fails.

You may be ready to feel the freedom of forgiveness from yourself. You’re tired of looking back more than enjoying the view right in front of you. You’re not alone. We all want that freedom. Here’s some advice on how to begin walking in that freedom:

Accept That it Happened

You messed up. Point. Blank. Period. You can’t change it, erase it, or delete it from your memory. It’s okay. You are a human being. You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. There is nothing you can do to change the past. There are no time machines that we know of yet to make it happen. Yes, you have to live with the fact that you may have did some dumb stuff. That is all a part of life. Life involves us all doing dumb stuff from time to time. I know it sucks that you’ll have to live with the mistakes of your past, but that is your PAST. It doesn’t have to define your now or who you are going become.

Admit You Were Wrong

Even though we all make mistakes, not all of us admit it. Sometimes we can let pride slip in and convince us that we have nothing to be ashamed of, embarrassed of and that we did nothing wrong. But that’s not true. We’ve all done stuff that we aren’t proud of (if we’re honest). So, yes you did mess up. You did disappoint someone, you did break someone’s trust, or heart. You may not have known it at the time, but you know now. Maybe you should call whoever you hurt or offended and let them know you were wrong and apologize. If they want to forgive you great. If they don’t, get your emotions out (cry, vent to a trusted companion) and move on. At least you can live with yourself knowing you did the right thing.

Pray About It

(This is for the believers. If you don’t believe in God, feel free to skip it if you want. Or read on for some interesting info.)

Let God in on your feelings. We can spend a lot of time talking to our friends, co-workers, and family that we forget about God. He doesn’t get time in our schedules and looked over except for some quotes we put on social media. Even though life gets tough, we can forget that He’s there with us waiting to help us. We haven’t talked to God in weeks, and our hearts and minds are a wreck. You’ve talked to everyone you know about it, but no one seems to be able to help. Take a moment and schedule a talk with God to let him know what’s going on with you so He can give you the wisdom you need.

“Maybe we need a huge, life-changing moment to teach us the most profound lessons in our lives.”

Learn from Your Mistakes

Every painful mistake we make can feel like it’s meant to show us how imperfect we are. That may be true, but we don’t need a life altering mistake to really prove that we’re human. Or sometimes maybe we do. Maybe we need a huge life-changing moment to teach us the most profound lessons in our lives. Maybe you needed that past mistake (or mistakes) to show you that you weren’t on the right path. You needed to make those unwise decisions so that you can deter someone else that may be considering going down the path. You’ve made your mistakes. Now take whatever wisdom you got and apply it to your life now.

Move on, Live in the Present

Live your life. Your mistakes do not have to define who you are at this moment. There is so much opportunity for you to take advantage of. There’s so much that you can teach others, encourage others with, and so much love to give and accept. All the negativity in your past isn’t enough to change who you can become if you choose the right path. There’s enough grace for you and there’s still more opportunities for you to be better than you were.