Listen, we have all been there. You said some horrible things in the heat of the moment, you made a horrible decision that changed the course of your life, or maybe you did something simple like forgetting to send an invite. Whatever the case may be, there’s something that you did in your past that keeps lingering in your mind. You keep replaying the moment over and ruminating over how you could have done things differently. It’s as if asked forgiveness is nowhere in sight.
Harping on the past and remorse isn’t a healthy way to cope. Telling yourself over and over that you could have changed one decision doesn’t change what happened. You have to let go of the guilt and shame associated with your actions to move on from the embarrassment of your mistake.
You can’t change how someone accepts you or reacts to you today, but you can change your outlook on the situation.
It’s Okay To Feel Your Feelings
Don’t run from how you feel, ever. Sit with it. The key is to not stew in the remorse or shame. When you sit with it without addressing it, this is when it becomes counterproductive to your mental health.
“What […] people can do is really learn to catch your thoughts, be aware of your own thoughts and recognize that those emotional thoughts lead to an emotional reaction and psychological reaction,” says psychologist Mary Karapetian Alvord, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Recognizing those connections is absolutely critical, and most people don’t. We think about emotions, but we don’t think about the thoughts and reframing and getting a different perspective.”
In 2018, I spiraled in the worst way possible. It impacted my studies, my mental health and overall goals for that year. Fortunately, I have an amazing support system that helped provide perspective to my situation and helps open the door to self-forgiveness. What delayed their support and care was letting them know what was happening to me.
Reduce Rumination With Productivity
Remember that every emotion serves its purpose. Find out why you feel guilt or shame and work through it. After allowing yourself to feel all of your feelings, channel that energy for self-forgiveness.
I checked out books at the library; opened places of me that I had never faced in my life. That time became all about my healing because I wanted to be prepared for my son. I documented my journey through blog posts, whether people noticed this or not. In that, I discovered my purpose. My pain, trials, and tribulations could help the next woman who is unsure of how to pull herself out of her life’s story.
Be Accountable And Transparent About Your Transgressions
Accountability may be the trickiest part in self forgiveness. The key here is to complete the first step properly. If you do not allow yourself to sit with your feelings, then you can identify the guilt. On the flip side, if all you feel is shame, then you’re only concerned about how others perceive you. Which can result in a lack of accountability. Do you see how that loop happens?
Denial is such a comfortable blanket that feels so good and warm away from the negative emotions of guilt. That isn’t helping you! Owning your part in the situation helps you in your evolution. Mistakes are vital to your evolution. If you do not own them, they repeat. When you own your mistake, own it; don’t take it back when it’s convenient.
Repair Relationships (And Apologize)
The only way to fully repair the relationship is to step fully into accountability without ulterior motives. You can’t only want to repair the relationship because of what you gain from that person. Own what you said or did.
“Offer a heartfelt apology and do your best to right any outstanding wrongs,” says Dr. Ellen Hendriksen, a clinical psychologist and author of, How To Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic And Rise Above Social Anxiety.
Listen and be open to how they respond to you. You can’t pressure and demand forgiveness right away. Or ever. Give that person space to process you and their own emotions about it.
Sometimes the person you have to face is your inner child.
Act Out A Self Forgiveness Ritual
Now y’all knew this wouldn’t be complete without a ritual. This step is all about how you prefer to process your emotions combined with a way that you usually don’t.
Put time into the act and decide how you really want to move forward through your ritual.
A basic ritual of forgiveness is writing a letter to yourself; a letter to purge. This isn’t a letter to talk down to yourself, so practice self-compassion and coach yourself in this letter because this doesn’t define you. Perform your nightly routine to cleanse yourself of the energy and place the letter on your altar. Pray to your ancestors for protection, guidance, and discernment at your altar. Leave an offering to your ancestors. Burn the letter on the next Full Moon.
Take Care Of Yourself Physically Too
Why do you think the focus is mind, body, and spirit? All three of these components are the indicator of your health. When you have daily rituals and routines that address each one, then you are working toward operating at your highest potential. Guilt and shame, when left unchecked, will manifest in your actions.
Eat healthily. Go for nutrient dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Stay hydrated! Drink a cup of water as soon as you wake in the morning.
Move your body! Whether your job is a workout or you go to a park for a walk, get to it.
Practice mindful breathing. Your body and mind benefit from breathing deeply and with intent.
Be Patient And Practice Gratitude
Self forgiveness isn’t going to happen overnight. However, focusing on what you have to be thankful for is a great way to expedite the process.
Start a gratitude journal.
This journal will help you to see all of the amazing decisions that you made and their result. More often than not, these decisions were begotten from wanting to make a change after a mistake. Do you see that loop happens?
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