Forgiveness isn’t always easy. When someone hurts you, it can require major strength (and maturity) to take a deep breath, put your ego aside, and accept a sincere apology. But what happens if the person you need to forgive is, er, yourself? Let’s face it: You might need to forgive yourself for a harmful thing you did. Maybe you’ve even already asked someone else for forgiveness, but you can’t let yourself off the hook. Or maybe you need to grant yourself forgiveness for an annoying pattern that does more harm in your life than you’d like (hello, people-pleasing).
Whether you made a few careless comments on a recent Zoom call, or you’re tired of never sticking up for yourself, it can feel downright impossible to forgive yourself and let that shit go. Below, we talked to experts about why and how to forgive yourself (because you deserve it).
1. Approach yourself like you would a best friend.
“When we’ve done something that is outside our moral [comfort] zone, often we start beating ourselves up about it, which doesn’t really help. So we have to practice a lot of self-compassion,” Emily Jamea, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., tells SELF. How do we do that? You know the feeling when your best friend calls post-breakup and starts saying terrible things about themselves? Even if there is an opportunity for your bestie to grow from their pain, you probably start with, “Hey, you’re human—be kind to yourself.” Still, we don’t always provide that caveat for ourselves. So what would it look like to address yourself as if you were talking to a friend? “That question alone can help create a little bit of perspective and soften the negative feelings we may have toward ourselves,” Dr. Jamea says.