How to Finally Forgive Yourself

How to Finally Forgive Yourself

how to forgive yourself

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In our lives, we all experience petty annoyances, disappointments, and hurts. They’re inevitable. And they don’t always feel so incidental or minor. Even in the best of times, it’s easy to feel down from time to time. But for a lot of people, these small moments and frustrations snowball into something much larger and more damaging: self-loathing. Self-hatred can creep up on you unexpectedly when something doesn’t go your way — maybe someone cuts you off in traffic or a friend cancels plans at the last minute. Your day sucks, but you can handle it as long as you keep moving forward. But then again . . . You start thinking about what happened and why it happened — how unfair everything feels — and you begin questioning yourself more deeply than usual: Why am I here? Why do I have to put up with this? Why do I deserve any of this? Once you’ve started down this path of self-hate, it becomes harder to turn back — even if that’s what you want to do. And because the cycle feeds on itself so often and so intensely (typically from moments that seem so harmless at first), self-hatred tends to linger for longer periods of time than it would otherwise. How can we stop the cycle before it starts? Here are some helpful tips on how to end the

Be gentle with yourself

Forgive yourself when you make mistakes and be gentle with yourself when you mess up. It’s human! If you don’t forgive yourself, the cycle of self-hatred will continue. Firstly, recognise that your self-hatred stems from a forlorn or lost feeling. Feelings of low self-worth can be caused by loneliness, trauma, job loss, or other losses in life. Forgiveness helps to restore balance in the mind and body — which makes it easier to move on. Secondly, be more present in your life. Take time to enjoy what you have right now and what’s going well in your life so that you can experience happiness.

Accept the mistake

The first step to stopping the cycle is accepting a mistake. No matter how insignificant or small, it’s always possible that you made a mistake. It may not have been your fault, but mistakes happen. The next thing you need to do is accept this mistake. Regardless of the circumstances and what happened, you need to acknowledge that it was a mistake. You don’t have to take responsibility for it or ask for forgiveness from anyone else — just be sure that you recognise what happened as a mistake. Give yourself time, everyone makes mistakes, and self-hatred can sometimes be more about your guilt than any actual wrongdoing. It’s tempting to want to punish yourself for something you feel guilty about — but regular self-reflection will help you realise that there are other ways to make up for your mistakes without feeling so bad about yourself. For example, maybe one day when things are going well and all is said and done, take some time out of your busy schedule or free-time hours and give yourself a reward: go out with friends or watch TV. Just giving yourself some time alone can help ease the burden on your conscience in many different ways.

Take responsibility

Start with taking responsibility for your actions. It can be difficult to admit to yourself that you were wrong or that you made a mistake — and, even more difficult to admit it to someone else. But if you want a change in the way you feel, it’s important to face those mistakes head-on. Take ownership of your own failures, accept them as lessons learned and start looking forward rather than back.

Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities

To break the cycle of self-hatred, you need to reframe mistakes as learning opportunities. Often, when we make a mistake, it doesn’t feel like a mistake at first. It just seems like life happened in a way that wasn’t fair and that you didn’t deserve. But what if you could change your mind about this? What if the situation is so much more than that? This obviously won’t always be easy — but when you start thinking about what really happened and why it happened, it becomes easier to let go of any anger or impulse to blame yourself for something outside of your control.

Separate your mistake from your identity

It’s easy to take yourself down when you make an honest mistake. When you do, it can be tempting to beat yourself up for letting your emotions get the best of you. But that only deepens the cycle of self-hatred. You see, we’re often our own worst enemies because we tend to hold on too tightly to who we are — and what we believe about ourselves — in order to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or weak. In reality, though, mistakes happen. It doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve happiness and success; it just means that nobody is perfect. And people who are perfect are boring (or so they say). To break this cycle from happening to you, take a step back and separate your mistake from your identity. Be realistic about the mistake, don’t let it define who you are as a person, and remember all the other amazing parts of your personality. Then move forward with your head held high knowing that there will be more opportunities for mistakes in the future because life is full of them!

Have a fair conversation with your inner critic

When we experience negative thoughts about ourselves, it’s important to remember that these thoughts aren’t your voice. They’re the voice of your inner critic. That voice is just here to point out mistakes and weaknesses, but it doesn’t define who you are as a person. The best way to stop feeding into criticism is by talking back to it — by having a fair conversation with your inner critic. As soon as you notice that you’ve begun thinking negatively about yourself, try asking your inner critic questions like these: How can I be more helpful and kind? What am I really trying to accomplish here? What would happen if I reached my goal? What would this mean for other people in my life?

Avoid replaying it over and over

One of the most powerful ways to break this cycle is by not replaying it over and over again. You’ll start to feel better in moments if you give yourself a break from the negative thoughts and focus on something else for a little bit. Maybe you read a book, watch funny videos, or listen to your favourite song — anything that will help distract you from those feelings of self-hate. Let’s also not mistake this for avoidant behaviour, as that is also a recipe for further problems down the line. The act of replaying your self-defeating thoughts is a form of obsession, and a solution to this is to find something you enjoy that can take you out of the this loop whilst you address the issue in a more compassionate way.

Write Down Your Thoughts

Writing down your thoughts can help you push through the cycle of self-loathing — because it helps you stay in the present moment. Before you start to spiral into self-hatred, try to write down what’s going on in that moment. Write down everything that comes up for you and your mind: why it happened, how you felt before this moment, what your emotions are now, and what specifically is happening that’s triggering these emotions. This helps you focus on the present without getting sucked back into self-hatred. You might find that writing doesn’t come easy for you or feels difficult at first. That’s okay! You might not be able to see yourself doing it right now, but it could help immensely if you keep trying over time. You don’t have to do it every day or even once a week; just every so often when something triggers those feelings of self-loathing. It might be as simple as setting a reminder on your phone or finding a pen and paper in a place where they won’t get lost easily so that when something triggers those feelings again, they know they can immediately do this exercise to stop themselves from spiralling back into self-hate.

Seek professional help

A lot of times, it can be helpful to talk to someone who’s been through similar experiences — a counsellor or therapist. This is especially true if you’re struggling with self-loathing in a way that’s not typical for you, like if you’re having thoughts of violence and suicide. Sometimes, all it takes is just a more objective perspective on the situation. However, even if you’re not struggling with self-hatred in this way, it may be helpful to speak with someone about your feelings and how they’re affecting you. It’s also important to consider taking breaks from social media — this can make a huge impact on how much time and energy self-hatred uses up.


In our intricate journey through life, we encounter a pervasive nemesis known as self-hatred. It has a tendency to infiltrate our psyche, weaving a web of discontent and despair. Thankfully, there are remedies to free ourselves from this oppressive cycle. A key step lies in the art of self-kindness, where forgiveness becomes our ally. Embracing the imperfections that define our humanity and granting ourselves the solace from the torment is vital to our mental health. We must disentangle the guilt from our identity, for they are mere fragments amidst the true essence of our being. Engaging in a compassionate dialogue with our inner critic, we challenge its harsh verdicts and seek a more nuanced perspective. There is wisdom in ceasing the relentless replaying of self-destruction and divert our attention towards joyous diversions that replenish the spirit. Through the act of writing, we shine the light on our thoughts, gaining clarity and distance from the throes of self-hatred. Yet, should the burden prove insurmountable, let us not hesitate to seek the sage counsel of professionals who can guide us towards self-acceptance and restoration. Embrace the power within you to break free from the chains of self-loathing and behold the profound beauty that arises from our flawed, yet extraordinary, existence.

Picture of Andrew Miles

Andrew Miles

Founder of Clearly Wellbeing - Mental Health and Wellbeing Leader in Education - Integrative Wellbeing Coach and Consultant. My mission, to help you discover the insights, ideas and tools to lead a fulfilling life.

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