January 5, 2021
In life, there will be many occasions where we screw up. You forget your spouse’s birthday, inadvertently spill a secret that wasn’t yours to share, or maybe do something deliberately hurtful to spite someone. And then you feel extremely guilty, unable to forgive yourself.
You put your head under the carpet and wish the mistake never happened. You are not able to stop yourself from repeatedly replaying the problem in your head. Deep down, you know you are not a bad person, but at the point, the mistake happens, it feels like you are the worst person in the world. You keep beating yourself, “How could I be so stupid,” “I should have handled this better,” “I am a failure.”
Feeling bad for some time and moving on is ok. However, pickling in remorse, feeling guilty and ashamed is not helpful beyond a point.
Think of the mistake like cutting your finger accidentally when chopping some vegetables. The hurt of cutting your finger is already there. So, what you would do when you cut your finger is to bandage it and let it heal.
But what you do when you screw up is that instead of taking some lessons and moving on, you keep repeatedly thinking about the screwup and beat yourself up. You continually scratch the emotional wound and prevent it from healing.
When you commit a mistake that hurts you, there are three ways you can apply some emotional balm and forgive yourself.
- Accept yourself and your flaws. If the mistake doesn’t kill you, you can find ways to deal with it.
- Remind yourself that something does not make you a failure or a bad person just because you made a mistake.
- Finally, treat yourself like your best friend. Just ask yourself, “if my best friend would have committed the same mistake, what would I tell him/her.” The answer will always be, ” Don’t take it to heart. Move on.”
You will be at peace with the world only when you are at peace with yourself. So, forgive yourself.