Self-forgiveness: A complete guide on How to forgive yourself

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By: Naveen B

At some point in our lives, we all lose the core identity of our lives without even realizing it. 

That may be either with the actions; or with words; or even by our mere thoughts. And such point of life is called ignorance. 

 By saying the words that were not supposed to be said; By doing the things that were not supposed to be done – we all do terrible things to ourselves and to others which eventually lead to regret and guilty and unnecessary suffering. Later search for forgiveness – “How to forgive yourself?” for those mistakes.

But, to get that identity back, we must have to pay a terrible price. Sometimes, we may never get it back. Because there is no forgiveness to certain actions. (some of us never even know what our core identity is!)

No matter what actions you have done to yourself or to others –

Forgiveness may seem like an impossible task at times, especially when you are talking about how to forgive yourself and not some other person who has done something wrong to you.

It can be especially difficult to forgive ourselves when we feel that we’ve failed ourselves and the people who care about us most in some way. 

Have you been feeling guilty or ashamed about some past mistake?

Do you think that it’s impossible to forgive yourself because of the mistakes you made?

Even if you have done something terrible, there’s still a way to be forgiven and to move on with your life.

The next time you find yourself struggling with forgiving yourself, keep these important points in mind.

 In this guide, I put some practical tips, different ways and steps on how to forgive yourself so that you can realize some of your mistakes and reflect on them to forgive yourself without any guilt or resentment.

What is self-forgiveness?


Self-forgiveness is a complex process that involves an understanding of why you did something wrong, then working through your feelings and getting to a place where you’re ready to move forward.

In other words, briefly – Self-forgiveness is a slow self-healing and spiritual process. It encourages to be kind with oneself irrespective of one’s ignorant or conscious mistakes.

And helps to come into awareness and continue life by learning; evolving; purifying themselves with good deeds or by serving to the world.

Why you should forgive yourself?

Research shows that by forgiving yourself, you will live a happier and more productive life.

By letting go of your past mistakes, you can give yourself a fresh start and even experience psychological benefits, such as improved mental well-being and higher self-esteem and also help improve relationships with other people.

Forgiving others is often tough—but sometimes forgiveness is possible when you come from a place of empathy. 

In some cases, forgiveness may be impossible if someone has intentionally hurt you or harmed others.

However, there are other circumstances in which letting go may be easier: If it’s been a long time since an event occurred; if it was something minor; or if it was a one-time occurrence rather than a pattern of behavior.

You should forgive yourself because you are human. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Accepting your flaws is part of living in a world with other people, people who will disappoint you sometimes.

When you can’t see your own actions objectively, it’s difficult to stay positive. If you forgive yourself for things that aren’t really big deals, it can help you move forward and stop beating yourself up over past mistakes (or things someone else has done).

It’s important not to be too hard on yourself or let your self-perceived failures define who you are; forgiving others means allowing them space for error, too—and sometimes forgiveness means letting go.

How to forgive yourself?


It is difficult to forgive yourself if you have done something terrible and unforgivable. However,

A new study suggests that there are five things people need to do in order to find self-forgiveness for their misdeeds.

These include acknowledging your feelings about what happened, understanding why you did it, working through those feelings, accepting responsibility for your actions, and ultimately letting go of it all so you can move forward with your life.

Sounds pretty simple! Well, it is—but it’s not always easy.

Self-forgiveness is a conscious and spiritual process that requires us to face some harsh realities about ourselves. 

Whether you’re guilty of treating someone poorly, losing an important friendship, or snuck some extra cookies from work, it’s hard to reconcile those misdeeds with your otherwise good self.

To begin forgiving yourself, first accept that no one is perfect—that includes you. Regardless of what happened, only a fool would expect you to be perfect.

Now, stop beating yourself up for making a mistake and focus on resolving it. If you have time, apologize to anyone involved.

If not, just be kinder going forward—treat others as well as you want them to treat you. Forgive yourself by letting go of your mistakes and learning from them.

How to learn to forgive yourself?

There are some practical ways to forgive yourself. If you think forgiveness is easy, you haven’t done it yet. Forgiveness isn’t about saying I don’t care what you did, and I don’t even want to think about it anymore.

It isn’t about pretending that whatever happened didn’t happen or making excuses for what was done or not done by you or others. These approaches will make your forgiveness sound like a lie and they can be very damaging in themselves.

 Forgiveness is about letting go of your attachment to wanting things to be different from what they are. In fact, you let go of your attachment to needing things to be different from what they are.

It isn’t about getting rid of pain or anger or fear. It’s not a matter of pretending that these things don’t exist in order to avoid being unhappy.

Nor is it a matter of saying that you’re bad for feeling angry, or that it’s okay for other people who’ve done something similar not to feel angry and remain friends with those people.

But it’s not okay for you because you have been wronged so terribly by them. That doesn’t make sense either.

How to forgive yourself for cheating?

Cheating is a terribly cheap act for which there is no forgiveness at all in most cases. However, it can be very hard not to hate yourself when you cheat.

There are three things you must do in order to learn how to forgive yourself.

The first thing you need to do is search your heart and soul and ask yourself why you did it. Was it just an impulse?

Did something distract you from your partner?

Did something else force you into doing what you did? 

Your answers may give some insight into why you cheated on your partner or spouse or they may just give reasons that seem meaningless.

If any of these answers make sense to what happened then we must ask ourselves if we will ever repeat these mistakes again with someone else and if we truly regret our actions.

And hold absolutely no desire to repeat them in the future, then we should stop berating ourselves and begin talking about forgiveness and start working towards gaining trust again with our partners or spouses.

We should also try to find ways of preventing such mistakes from happening again.

5 Steps to forgive yourself for cheating.

Here are five steps to forgive yourself for cheating: 

1. Accept that you have done wrong 

2. Make a firm decision not to repeat your mistake again 

3. Apologize sincerely 

4. Take responsibility for your actions 

5. Do what it takes to mend things with your partner or spouse 

After all of these things, if you truly wish to be forgiven by your partner or spouse then ask them if they can forgive you and if they can accept you back in their life after what happened. Once they do.

However, make sure never to get yourself into such a situation ever again because cheating is like cancer; once it’s there, it will spread until it destroys every relationship in life completely.

How to forgive yourself for hurting someone?

The best approach to forgiveness for hurting someone is to let go of any resentment and make peace with what you did.

Forgiveness can also be a method of healing and moving forward, and it’s possible to forgive and still feel negative feelings about what happened.

Forgiving yourself means releasing your judgments about what you did; without those judgments, there’s nothing stopping you from truly accepting that you’re not a bad person or an evil person because of what happened.

Self-forgiveness works best when it comes from a place of acceptance, rather than simply trying to appease someone else.

5 Ways to forgive yourself for hurting someone

Here are 5 ways to forgive yourself for hurting someone: 

1. Listen to your heart and be honest with yourself. Allow your body and mind time and space to process what you did, and don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision or force forgiveness onto you. 

2. Forgive as soon as possible after an incident, rather than allowing negativity and resentment to fester inside of you; resentment can do much more damage to your self-esteem than an initial mistake ever could. 

3. Keep perspective—just because one person may have been hurt by what happened doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with who you are as a person. 

4. Find friends or family members that support you in your mistakes, and who will encourage genuine change rather than criticism or judgment. 

5. Approach the person and apologize genuinely.  If they’re open to listening to your feelings about what happened, explain how it made you feel and why it was so hard for you to forgive yourself. 

If they aren’t ready to listen or accept what you say, respect their wishes and put those intentions out into the universe for them. 

Some people never find it within themselves to be receptive to apologies, but others may surprise you with their compassion.

It can also be good practice if it’s hard for a person that was hurt by a thing that is important for them to accept forgiveness from another person – forgiving themselves might help them move forward positively, perhaps learning from their mistakes through personal growth – which benefits us all!

How to forgive yourself for past mistakes?

Past mistakes are something that can never be undone. The only thing we can do is to learn from them and keep bitter experiences in mind – with conscious efforts become responsible for our future actions. 

A practical solution to forgive yourself for past mistakes is not to repeat them ever again. And to make that happen –

Here are some tips for practicing self-forgiveness:

  •  Self-reflect,
  • Self-care,
  • Self-compassion,
  • Have patience,
  •  Completely understand yourself.
  •  Make your thoughts pure, 
  • intentions clear,
  • Actions resonate with your words,
  • Replace guilt with positive affirmations,
  • Be kind to yourself and others,
  • Serve selflessly,
  • and remember that we all do mistakes.

But the question is do we realize our ignorance and work on ourselves to recover from the respective damage, and bring great changes in our lives and the lives of others to heal from the past.

Surely, it takes time but just remember you are not alone. 

“With patience and effort, you can move the mountains if you put your mind into.”

So, be prepared to be such change.

How to forgive yourself for being toxic?

If you think you were being toxic to someone and yet hurting yourself for the same reason is still a sign of toxicity. Whether you are hurting someone or hurting yourself, it’s still the same toxic behavior.

However, one best thing is that you recognizing your unhealthy behavior and seeking self-forgiveness is one of the good characteristics of a person

If you want to find how to forgive yourself for being toxic, then the solution begins with asking yourself the right questions. First of all, make sure that, are you really a toxic person. 

Here are the questions to ask yourself to know whether you are a toxic person or not –

  • Do you use hateful language?
  • Do you constantly feel jealous of others who are in a better position than you?
  • Do you always blame others for your insecurities and problems?
  • Do you complain about everything?
  • Do you shame others for who they are?

If all those things match your personality then What would you do if someone is being toxic to you and do exactly as you do? “Just give yourself a deep thought and have inner self-talk to realize your mistake. Also,

Here are some ways to forgive yourself and start moving forward:

  • See yourself through the lens that you would hope to see others through and be such a person.
  •  Instead of seeking forgiveness without working on yourself, change yourself completely. And let your actions show them that you deserve forgiveness.
  • Help them to understand what you want and be crystal clear about it.

No one wants to be in a friendship or in a relationship with toxic people. Therefore, make sure you exhibit positive vibrations wherever you go and whomever you meet. So that you will find joy and peace in your life.

How to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship?

If you ruined a relationship deliberately, it can be tough to forgive yourself. 

But, what if it wasn’t something you did willingly?

What if your partner cheated on you?

Or your ex-partner was abusive?

Forgiveness isn’t just about being nice. It’s also about being honest with yourself and giving love another chance. It is important that while forgiving, don’t rewrite history by denying or ignoring what happened in that past relationship.

Accepting responsibility is part of forgiveness, but not all of it—to really move forward in life with positive growth, remember there are two sides of any story. While one person may have hurt or wronged you deeply, they are also human like you and deserve love too.

There are many reasons that someone would deliberately hurt or betray their partner. Sometimes it’s out of neglect, lack of respect, lack of love, low self-esteem, or just pure selfishness.

Whatever your situation maybe, if you have found yourself in a similar situation where your partner cheated or hurt you badly for no apparent reason, it can be difficult to move past it. Some people have kept blaming themselves over and over again even though they are not at fault.

If your ex-partner hurt you so bad that being with them becomes unbearable, then forgiveness is definitely needed in order for positive changes to take place in life instead of living in regret and pain.

Ruining a relationship with someone is a pain that stays with you for a long time. If you have ruined your relationship with someone, it may be difficult for you to forget about it and move on. 

You need to know what steps should be taken in order to forgive yourself as soon as possible. In order for you to start over, forgiving yourself is extremely important.

5 Tips to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship.

Here are five tips to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship: 

1. Express your feelings about what happened by writing them down. 

2. Talk with other people so that you can hear their opinions and advice. 

3. Don’t keep talking about what happened again and again. 

4. Accept that it happened, but don’t let it consume you. 

5. Learn from your mistakes, so that something like that won’t happen again in future.

How to forgive yourself for lying?

Lying, in general, has a negative connotation. To be told that someone lied, whether directly or through omission, can be crushing and lead to a cascade of questions: 

Are they trustworthy?

Are they keeping something from me?

What else aren’t they telling me? 

For most people, it’s not easy to move forward with an immediate decision of forgiveness. So instead of self-flagellation (which you may very well do for some time), try forgiving yourself slowly.

How to forgive yourself for something terrible?


Forgiving yourself for something terrible and unforgivable is possible. When you’ve committed a horrible act that will taint your life forever, it can seem impossible to find peace with it.

But forgiveness isn’t just about letting go of pain—it also involves acceptance. A lot of us have trouble accepting what we’ve done, but there are strategies that can help us look at ourselves with compassion instead of contempt—even if we feel like our actions deserve nothing less than hatred.

Ultimately, forgiving ourselves is an ongoing process rather than an achievement—one that happens over time as we learn how to let go and move forward in healthy ways.

How to forgive yourself for something unforgivable?

Forgiving yourself for something unforgivable isn’t an easy process. You have to admit that what you did was wrong, but there are many benefits of forgiveness.

Being able to forgive your mistakes will make it easier for you to get closure and move forward in life.

It also allows you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by negativity and prevents low self-esteem from holding you back.

Self-forgiveness can help heal your wounds and restore self-confidence, allowing you to enjoy your life again. Although it’s hard, forgiving yourself is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

Steps to forgive yourself

  1. Realize that you made mistakes.
  2. Accept the pain and be responsible for whatever happened, whatever happening, and for whatever is going to happen.
  3. Express your guilt and shame to yourself or to the people you hurt.
  4. Repair the damage and give your everything to rebuild the trust.
  5. Focus on the change and adapt to new life.
  6. Move on.

Benefits of forgiving yourself

According to research, those who practice self-forgiveness have better mental health, healthier relationships, and a more positive attitude.

It has been suggested that self-compassion is associated with greater success, productivity, focus, and concentration.

The people who are capable of self-forgiving realize that not forgiving themselves leads to suffering, and therefore are kind to themselves, thereby reducing anxiety and depression.

Negative feelings, stress, and pessimism are more likely to accompany individuals who are highly critical of themselves.

10 Benefits of forgiving yourself

1. It frees you from guilt and shame

2. Self-forgiveness sets a good example for others

3. You can make amends, learn from your mistakes and grow

4. It stops negative self-talk

5. It releases stress

6. Forgiving helps you keep perspective 

7. Forgiving helps you avoid bitterness

8. You feel lighter

9. You’re no longer caught up in your past

10. Forgiving others is easier when you forgive yourself first!

self-forgiveness exercises

Here is the list of self-forgiveness exercises:

  • Depending on the level of your belief and your connection to spirituality, mindfulness activities would ignite the positive energy, peace, and calm environment inside your mind. Therefore, practice mindful activities such as 
  • meditation, 
  • positive self-talk, 
  • uttering self-forgiveness affirmations,
  • Talking to yourself from another person’s perspective,
  • Writing a forgiving letter to yourself and the person whom you hurt,
  • And seek an apology.

Self-forgiveness affirmations

If you are the kind of person who believes in the magic of words, positive self-talk, and positive affirmations. Here is the list of self-forgiveness affirmations that make you feel grateful for everything.

  • Every I am learning, realizing, and evolving to become a better version of myself. Now, my every motive is pure. Every glance is compassionate. Every word is true. I am making my every moment as holy as possible. I am turning my body into a temple and changing everything into the divine.
  • I forgive everyone in my life from the past to the present. I continue to understand, love, and forgive myself and everyone regardless of their mistakes.
  • I forgive myself for my ignorance. Because I am human, I am imperfect too. Nevertheless, despite all my difficulties, I strive my best to be a good human.
  • As I look back, I realize that my parents gave me everything they had. If they unknowingly did any harm to me, I forgive them.
  • With love, I replace shame, guilt, anger, hatred, and judgment with openness and acceptance.
  • I am aware that forgiving someone does not mean forgetting what they have done to me. I just want to let go of his/her hold on my life so that I can move forward.
  • I have learned to see the other’s perspective. As a result, I can avoid resentment and focus on love.

Quotes about forgiving yourself

  • Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it. — Maya Angelou
  • If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. – Jack Kornfield
  • We cannot change anything unless we accept it. –Carl Jung

Final Thoughts:

The good thing about life is – that Irrespective of what we do – self-reflection and self-realization is the key to beginning a new life. Before it’s too late, we need to realize and transform our lives for the better. And then we are never going to be the same.) 

Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself and your loved ones no matter what.

Wish you the best life ahead.


Related resources:

Complete guide on how to overcome challenges

Image credits

Love vector created by freepik.


  • Naveen B

    Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry. His expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few. To be updated with his latest work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry. His expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few. To be updated with his latest work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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