Many of us have problems letting go of the past and keep holding onto issues for years. It often affects our present lives and relationships because we keep dwelling on time that we can never get back, or actions which we can never undo.
As many have said, forgiveness takes time, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that is different for everyone depending on the level of mistake and even personal motivation. But there is always hope no matter how long it takes. Below are some suggestions which may help you to move on with your journey:
Set clear morals and principles.
Make sure your morals and beliefs are in line with your current values so that you won’t feel guilt for every action that you take. Regarding past mistakes, identifying your current morals will help you to realize the things that are important to you right now. And by recognizing your values, you will be able to see the bigger picture as to “why” the action we took, or what somebody did to you, has affected you so much.
Let bygones be bygones.
The past is something we can’t undo. Once it is done, we need to accept and realize things as they are and move on. We might find it hard to let go of a friend who has caused us trouble but moving forwards without an untrustworthy friend is something that we should not feel guilty about. Leaving people behind is part of our lives and it may actually be better for both people involved.
We need to learn the power of acceptance because it is only once we have accepted what happened that we will be able to heal ourselves emotionally and obtain peace within ourselves.
Make a “re-do” list.
Make a list of all the things that you would have done differently if you were given a chance to go back and repeat them. This is to prove that not only do we learn from our previous mistakes, but also that we acknowledge that if we had the means or knowledge we have now, we may have prevented them from happening. This can help us to prevent us doing these things in the future. Never misjudge the power of “re-do.”
Understand that you did the best you could at the time and forgive yourself.
The way we react depends on the skills we acquired, the state of mind that we were in and how we saw things at that moment. At the time of the mistake, we may have been acting to survive or protect ourselves. Or maybe stress got in our way, leading us to act inappropriately. Whatever the circumstances, don’t let it affect you negatively. Realize that you’ve learned from your mistake.
Apply what you’ve learned based on your values and principles.
To let go, the best advice you can give yourself is to change your negative thinking and behavior. Make sure you use ones that are in line with your morals and values. This will help you understand that you can handle any situation the way you want to and give you a sense of pride that will help to rebuild your self-esteem.
Take note of your biggest regrets.
It can be overwhelming to try and move on from your past, as you may have a lot of regrets. Big decisions like which college you wanted to go to, which job offer you accepted, which city you moved to, all of these may turn into a regret.
For example, let’s say that you had job offers from 2 companies. While the first offer has a higher salary, you choose the lesser one because it’s much closer to home. However, after a few years, you divorce your husband and you now regret your decision to not take the high paying job. You should forgive yourself in this kind of situation. A few years back, you didn’t know you were going to be divorced. You made a decision in the past based on the knowledge that you had at the time, and you shouldn’t judge it based on what you know now.
Try to work on identifying behavioral patterns rather than working with individual regrets, because most people hold on to several regrets which can be grouped into categories. Identifying these will help you to not make the same type of regret again.
Discuss the big ones.
Some regrets may take a long time to solve, and need a lot of work. Some may even seem not to improve. To solve these, make sure to talk things through with friends and family and apologize to yourself or for anyone else who was affected. This is often called “clearing your conscience.”
Move to the next chapter.
You have to embrace that the past can’t be undone, and you have done everything in your ability to correct your previous mistakes. It is now time for you to move on to the next chapter of your life and accept things as they are. This will help you to grow and develop as a person. Be thankful for those challenges as they gave you the opportunity to learn, move on and forgive yourself.
Don’t pressure yourself.
It takes time to forgive, just like any process. It will take a few tries before you realize that you can achieve it. Acquiring new manners and thinking patterns are both skills that are no different. When learning new things, accept that you are not perfect, and that everyone will make mistakes. If you stop comparing yourself to some idealised standard, you will be able to learn a lot quicker.
Many of us don’t realize how important it is to love ourselves first before we love others. This is an essential way of rebuilding self-esteem. Find time to think positive thoughts about yourself and show yourself tenderness and warmth. Making yourself as a priority, speaking to yourself with love and compassion and making yourself your own best friend will prove that you believe that you are important. How can you do this? Readself-love and self-acceptance books, surround yourself with optimistic people and if you need outside help, try coaching and psychotherapy.
Forgiving yourself takes time and self-love. Stop blaming yourself for things that cannot be undone. Move forward and keep in mind the lessons you learned from your past mistakes. Making mistakes is part of our lives but you should not let those wrong decisions define you. Forgive yourself and break free from guilt and unhappiness.