“Forgiveness for ourselves and others is one of the main elements in growth. It allows us to free ourselves of the issues that are holding us down.” ― Nanette Mathews
I’ve made countless mistakes in life. Some of those mistakes didn’t have much of an impact on me or those around me, but I’ve made other mistakes that were just plain horrible. And I would beat myself up about those mistakes for a long time — I still do sometimes. But I’ve learned it does me no good, and all it does is keep me locked in a cycle of negativity. It holds me back from growth and becoming a better person.
We all make mistakes. We are all human and fallible. Nobody in the history of the world has gotten through life without messing up. Making mistakes is unavoidable — and we can learn and grow from each one.
But we have to learn how to react to these mistakes, and understand fault is beside the point — it’s what we do after the mistake which allows us to move on and continue our growth.
It is important to forgive others when they make mistakes. We should understand people will screw up occasionally and we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Forgive and forget as the adage goes.
However, it is much harder to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made. But why is it so much easier to forgive others than ourselves?
It’s because we are our own worst critic. We are too hard on ourselves to get everything right, and we worry too much about trying to please everyone around us. We don’t want to screw up because it makes us look bad. But our perceptions are not always right because people see us differently than how we see ourselves. And if we can forgive others, we should also forgive ourselves.
We should also understand that a mistake is a wrong judgment or a misunderstanding. It’s not intentional, and it’s not something you need to beat yourself up about. And maybe I’m writing this for myself more than anyone else, but I think we could all learn how to forgive ourselves better. I know it’s been tough for me to follow some of my own advice.
So, like I try to lead with love and kindness to others, I am also trying to give it to myself. You should, too. We should lead with compassion for the mistakes we make and give ourselves a break. It’s normal to screw up.
Having compassion for yourself is one of the most important parts of having a healthy self-relationship. Self-compassion allows us to have fewer negative emotions. It stops the constant criticism about ourselves and it allows you to understand that the decisions you’ve made about yourself may not be true.
I’ve learned I can let go of all the negativity I’ve placed upon myself. It has taken a ton of work and I am nowhere close to conquering that ability. But it can be done.
I’ve also learned I am imperfect. I am flawed and wrong about a lot of things. But I’m in the same boat as the rest of humanity. It’s a shared experience and I understand everyone else is imperfect. Everyone else makes mistakes. And these impossible standards we give to our life only makes us disappointed when we cannot live up to them. It makes us unhappy and gives us low self-esteem. It sets us up for failure.
But we need to realize we are all the same. We all have flaws. It is a part of what makes us human. You will make mistakes and you will feel horrible about some of those mistakes. This is good! And normal. Because it gives you the opportunity for renewal. For growth.
So forgive yourself. Understand you are imperfect. And lead with love and kindness toward everyone — most importantly, you. @jefftherunner1 (Click to Tweet!)
Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.
Image courtesy of Giulia Bertelli.