How to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes

We need to know how to let go of the past when a problem starts to become a burden that hinders us from moving on, improving and being happy.
How to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes

Last update: 26 May, 2022

What happened in the past shouldn’t interfere with the feelings or emotions that you have today.
While it’s true that we can use our mistakes as a lesson, there are many people that don’t forgive themselves for yesterday’s mistakes. They simply failto move on. You should learn how to forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Forgive yourself for past mistakes

Though it might seem like a cliché, it’s true that “nobody is perfect” and that we all make mistakes. However, the difference lies in how we accept that mistake as well as how we choose to learn from it.

It doesn’t do us any good to stay at home crying, thinking or milling over what we did wrong if we aren’t going to look for  answers. Blaming or punishing ourselves won’t get us very far.

It’s about understanding what happened and finding ways to prevent it from happening, or prevent it from affecting us negatively again

It’s not easy to forgive others or ourselves. Yesterday’s mistakes often follow us, refusing to leave us alone. Forgiving depends on our ability to left go of them through reflection, self-consciousness and knowledge.

When we make certain mistakes, we feel defeated, desperate and anguished. It’s like hammering a nail into our finger, removing it, only to hammer it in again. By doing so, the nail will hurt and burden us forever.

Of course, the act of forgiving ourselves isn’t simple, but it’s worth it. You’ll feel a big relief from taking off a huge weight of your shoulders and prevent repeating the past mistakes in the future.

Tips for forgiving past mistakes

For self-forgiveness, it’s time to look back and own up to the mistakes that you’ve made.

Though you might not believe it, we’re often our own harshest judges, judging ourselves harder than others. Start today and remember that every mistake is an opportunity to grow:

1. Look for (and find) the positive side of things

Forgive Yourself
Contrary to what people believe, there is always good in every event. Pain, failure and mistakes should let us grow, mature and understand life better. When you mess up, think for a minute: How can I use this?

In order to prevent making the mistake again, you need to find the “lesson”. Reflect for as much time as you need until you find the positive side of things, then move on to forgiving yourself.

2. Determine “the why” of forgiveness

Forgiving is a very important act because it liberates us from a prison in which, many times, we walk into without even realizing, trapping ourselves.

Maybe you feel guilty or responsible for something that happened, and because of that, you can’t forgive yourself. The memories might be very painful, but you should know that although the consequences were negative, you have time to redeem yourself and resolve the situation.

Show yourself that you are capable of changing, improving, and that you’re sorry. It’ll be easier for you to find forgiveness.

3. Love yourself above all else

Love yourself beyond anything

We attack ourselves more than others without defending ourselves. Sometimes, we’re too critical with our mistakes and we can’t forgive our past mistakes because we don’t love ourselves enough.

Self-esteem isn’t a synonym for narcissism, nor is it believing that we deserve divine mercy. Rather, it allows us to understand, be compassionate and love ourselves even with our defects.

Try loving yourself as a bridge towards forgiveness and you’ll see how much better you feel about yourself.

4. Think about the future

Living in the past too much doesn’t let us look towards the future. Chaining ourselves to yesterday is one of the biggest obstacles that’ll leave us “always in the same place”. A good way to let go this burden is by planning and defining objectives.

If you keep your gaze set on your goals, remember that what you did before won’t matter so much, or at least it won’t occupy such an important place in your thoughts.

You can even use your mistakes as a ramp to enter into action, once you know what things you should avoid in order to make your dreams come true.

5. Start from zero

Start from zero

“Starting from scratch” is a great way to forgive ourselves for yesterday’s mistakes. You should aim to be like the phoenix and rise from the ashes.

Leave the pain and problems that hindered you from growing to the side. Focus on this “new me” that doesn’t have that same fear nor suffering, but rather, experiences and wisdom.

Leave the past exactly where it is: in the past. Take your mistakes as lessons and apply them to your new present so that your future can be perfect.

6. Grow spiritually

Maybe you need an “external” help to help accept what happened if you’ve already tried several times to forgive by yourself without much success.

What are your options? There are several: meditate, pray, follow a spiritual ritual, go to a psychologist…all of these can help you grow spiritually and emotionally.

Of course, you can always reserve a couple minutes of your day to reflect and think positively (not about the mistakes but rather, how to overcome the situation).

Look for the moments where nobody bothers you: for example, before you go to bed or right when you wake up, or even when you’re in the shower.

7. Appreciate your current life

Appreciate your current life

An excess of the past, or future, isn’t good for anyone because it fills us with sadness or anxiety (depending on the case). To avoid it, it’s crucial that you enjoy today as fully as you can and that you try to be consistent.

Think: what is the most important thing in your life right now? What things should you feel thankful for and blessed?

There are many. Appreciate them!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.


  • Colaboradores sobre Creación de empresas. (2010). Las 5 causas más frecuentes del fracaso empresarial. Emprendalia Magazine.

  • Suárez, J., Albisu, L. M., Sotolongo, N., & Blanco, F. (2007). Factores de éxito y fracaso en el comportamiento innovador de las empresas ganaderas cubanas. (Spanish). Pastos y Forrajes.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.