How to Forgive Yourself and Let Go

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Have you ever made a mistake you just couldn’t move past?

Maybe you overslept for one of the biggest job interviews of your life.
Maybe you went back to your toxic ex when you knew they would just hurt you again.
Maybe you snapped at someone because you weren’t in the right frame of mind.

Sometimes mistakes are small. Sometimes mistakes are huge.  Sometimes mistakes are micro-decisions that build up and turn into less than ideal outcomes down the road. 

For example, if you’re working on changing your eating habits, eating a slice of cake one day probably won’t hurt you. But every day for a month and the calories will add up.  Whatever the mistake was, one of the things I’m learning is how often the person who punishes us the most for our mistakes is… ourselves.

Recently, I made a decision I knew wasn’t ideal.  Initially, I wanted to beat myself up for it.  In fact, I did beat myself up for it.  I stayed up late in a completely anxious state wondering why I did that, and why I’m such a failure.  I told myself I was stupid, dumb and careless for acting in the way that I did.  I told myself that I would never get better.  That my life would always be this way… just constantly getting better only to make another stupid mistake that leaves me right where I was before.

Then something happened… 

I suddenly found myself saying out loud “I forgive you.  It’s okay.  You did the best you could,” and as I uttered those words to myself, I found myself finally being able to breathe.  The truth is often I slip into certain habits because I’m tired, lonely, craving connection or simply bored.  One mistake does not take away years of progress.  I look back at 2019 and realize it was actually one of my most powerful years despite the few slip-ups

After reflecting, I wasn’t mad at myself anymore.  In fact, for the first time in my life, I finally understood why I made the decision I did.  I was vulnerable because I was overwhelmed by carrying the armor I created for myself. 

Sometimes being strong is tiring.  Sometimes you want a vacation from being strong so you seek solace in a person or thing or behavior.  Awareness is so important when it comes to the decisions we decide to make.  I often try to talk to myself like I am my own best friend.  Would I really yell at my friend for slipping up?  No, I wouldn’t.  I would be compassionate and gentle, so that’s exactly the way I want to treat myself. Always.

Happily, I write this to let you know that I am back in good spirits.  It feels genuine and peaceful to be at this place.

A place where I expect myself to fail, yet an agreement with myself to not let those failures define me even if they happen again and again and again.  It isn’t easy, but I am making a promise from this point on to always try to be gentle with myself.

I am a vulnerable person who is affected by my environment just like everyone else. I don’t have any superpowers, just a constant desire to be a better person than I was yesterday.

So if this is you, and you’ve made a mistake or several, just know you will always make mistakes, and often the biggest burden is the one you put on yourself.

Breathe and recognize all of the great things you have accomplished despite the slip-ups.  Know that even if you take a step back, it won’t take away the numerous steps you took forward unless you continue to dwell on it.

You have the decision to pick yourself up instead of beating yourself down.

& that’s the truth

Sher

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