If you are angry at yourself for mistakes you have made, you are likely asking yourself why you made the decisions you did and how your life would have gone if you had chosen another path. You may even be so focused on your errors that anger is threatening to control your life. However, making the difficult decision to let go of self-loathing and forgive yourself for your past will set you free and give you the inner peace you deserve.
1. Be Specific
Be specific when it comes to forgiving yourself, as this will help liberate you from a general or vague sense of guilt. Dr. Joretta L. Marshall, professor of pastoral care at the Eden Theological Seminary, states that "people often try to forgive themselves for the wrong things," such as their human nature. Instead, be accountable for the particular mistake you made and accept it. Dr. Marc Muchnick, professor at Capella University, suggests that by facing what is tormenting you, you will put a stop to your inner turmoil. The sooner you face what you got yourself into, the faster you can let go of your anger and move on.
2. Accept Your Humanity
Dr. Rachel Hannam, a psychologist and life coach, emphasizes the importance of realizing you are human when it comes to letting go of your past. Accepting the fact that you have made mistakes and will continue to make them despite your best efforts will help free you from the illusion that perfection is attainable. Dr. Muchnick advises that you "[g]ive yourself permission to be imperfect," as this will help you overcome your stress over how your life might have been if you had done things differently.
Allow yourself time to mourn exactly what you lost when you made your decisions. Dr. Hannam reports that grieving your unmet needs is an important part of the healing process and will help you work through your sadness. She suggests setting aside 10 to 20 minutes to work through this process and using a pen and paper to record how you feel. Expressing yourself this way will help liberate you and bring awareness to the reason(s) behind your regret.
4. Let Go
Make the deliberate decision to let go of your mistakes when you are ready, and do not dwell on them any longer. Dr. Muchnick states that "[t]he key to getting over regret is learning how to release yourself from its grip." In order to do this, you must decide to rid yourself of the burden of your mistakes because you value freedom and forgiveness for yourself. This will enable you to live a richer life as you accept your humanity and that you will never be perfect.
- Oprah: How to Let Go of Regret
- The Mindful Path Through Worry and Rumination: Letting Go of Anxious and Depressive Thoughts; Sameet Kumar, Ph.D.
- HCP Live: Letting Go of Regret Linked to Healthy Aging
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