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6 Really Useful Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move On

Woman covering her eyes with an expression of guilt illustrating someone who needs to do the 6 really useful self-forgiveness exercises.

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Everyone messes up sometimes. But we tend to be more generous with forgiveness for others than ourselves. These self-forgiveness exercises will help you be as kind to yourself as you try to be to others when they screw up.

Before anything else, can you own that everyone has done things they wish they hadn’t done? Some things you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Some things were just a mistake in judgment. Then there are the things we knew were a bad idea when we were doing them, but…we did it anyway.

Perhaps it’s something you wish you HAD done that you didn’t. It might be something you said in the heat of an argument or something you didn’t say when you had the opportunity. We all have places where we used poor judgment or no judgment at all. Regardless, we all have things we must forgive ourselves for.

It’s typical for each of us to think our transgressions are worse than anyone else’s. But that’s because we tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we have for others. We also tend to be much kinder and more compassionate with others than we are regarding our own mistakes.

Dog with a look of being sorry on his face as he sits next to a plant that is knocked over.

Why Is Self-Forgiveness So Important?

Self-forgiveness is essential because self-punishment doesn’t help anything. In self-punishment, we damage our self-esteem by holding forgiveness from ourselves. Damaged self-esteem will hurt us and almost always affect others around us. There is a saying, “If we don’t heal our wounds, we will bleed on people who didn’t cut us.” Self-forgiveness is part of that healing.

You might believe that you don’t deserve self-forgiveness, but you do. Also, you know you can’t give what you don’t have. When you hold more love, compassion, and forgiveness for yourself, you have more to share with others. So, doing self-forgiveness exercises to help you heal is not just an act of self-care. It’s a step to make you more of a whole person for those around you. 7 Ways to Discover the Real You With Enchanted Perspectives

So, if your ego won’t allow you to stop beating yourself up, do it for the rest of the world. As you learn to forgive yourself for the mess-ups, missed steps, and mistakes, you will become a more significant, kinder, compassionate, and incredible human being. Isn’t that what we are all going for? So, let’s try some self-forgiveness exercises. It’s time to move on to the next and even better version of you.

Word guilt with red x and word regret with a green check mark illustrating the explanation of using regret as a basis for self-forgiveness exercises.

Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move On #1: Understand The Difference Between Guilt and Regret.

The healing property of Self-forgiveness is the release of self-loathing and guilt. It’s interesting how much we humans love to talk about guilt. We hear people profess shame about things they had no part in—like feeling guilty that you have a better job than your friend. You have no control over what job your friend has.

We tend to confuse “Guilt” and “Regret.” What’s the difference? They are similar, and the emotions may feel alike. However, there is a vast difference. Guilt never helped anyone or made a difference in anything. Regret, on the other hand, has an opportunity to help heal and create change.

So, how do you begin looking at things through regretful eyes instead of guilty eyes? Grab a piece of paper and something to write with (our favorite way to sort anything. Extra points for colored pens.)

EXERCISE:

Write the topic or incident you feel bad about at the top of the page. Draw a line down through the center, making two columns. At the top of one column, write “Ways Guilt Can Improve This Situation.” On the top of the other, write “Ways Regret Can Help Improve This Situation.”

If you think about it, you will probably find there isn’t much to list on the guilt side. That’s because guilt is a useless emotion. It beats you up more than is warranted and doesn’t change anything for the person you hurt. However, if you can slightly shift from guilt to regret…you’ve got something to work with now.

In regret, you can decide if there is something you can do to make amends. Maybe you can make the situation better or apologize. You can use regret to figure out how to do better next time. You can also use it to avoid the same problem again.

Massive hook illustrating a self-forgiveness exercises of letting yourself off the hook.

Self-Forgiveness Exercise For When It’s Time To Move On #2: There Is No Hook.

The “Yeah, But…” we hear in resistance to Self-Forgiveness Exercises is, “But, then I’ll let myself off the hook.” To them, that just doesn’t seem right. They have imprisoned themselves for making a mistake; the sentence is LIFE.

We will spare you the lecture about compassion for your humanness (and everyone else’s) and go straight to the point. THERE IS NO HOOK. THERE IS ONLY IMPROVEMENT. Just like guilt does nothing to serve the world, this imaginary hook we insist on hanging ourselves on is useless, too. It doesn’t heal, help, or change anything for anyone, especially those you think you harmed or hurt. 7 Ways to Discover the Real You With Enchanted Perspectives

Exercise:

Take another piece of paper (Yep, more paper) and list any topic you want to forgive yourself for. Beside each issue, write “Better Ways To Improve Instead Of Be On The Hook.” List what you could be doing, thinking, or changing instead of the self-punishment you have inflicted on yourself with your “imaginary” hook.

Hopefully, in your writing, you will find that the hook not only doesn’t exist anywhere but in your head. It doesn’t make amends, change the situation, help the person you hurt, or change the mess you made. It just keeps you stuck in a place where you can’t have the opportunity to improve or be better. You can’t rewrite your history, but you can get clear on what to do and improve in your future.

Cat looking down at the ground next to flowers with the words I'm sorry.

Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move On #3: If Making Amends Or Giving A Real Apology Makes A Difference, Do It.

Some new action steps might appear in choosing to feel regret instead of guilt. These action steps could improve the situation, the people affected, or yourself…maybe even all three. Grab another piece of paper.

EXERCISE:

Write the subject you regret at the top. Now, list anything you could do to make amends (make it better). Examples could be undoing or correcting a wrong. By this, we mean if you took something, give it back. If you damaged something, replace it or repair it. Sometimes you have to get creative.

We once knew a woman who accidentally ran over her neighbor’s dog. Of course, she couldn’t undo that. She offered to get them another dog. They didn’t want that. She apologized, and they weren’t open to that either. So, to make amends, every year, she donates to the no-kill shelter in the neighbor’s dog’s name.

Another example we know is a man who, in his youth, stole money from a church and was never caught. Turning himself in now would not help anything or anyone. So, instead, he makes an anonymous donation to the church every year. He plans to keep doing this until he has returned all the money. 7 Ways to Discover the Real You With Enchanted Perspectives

Red roses with a handwritten note with words I am sorry illustrating self-forgiveness exercises

Saying “I’m Sorry” Counts.

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do but apologize. However, know what a genuine apology looks like. A real apology is much more than just saying sorry and moving on with your day. A sincere apology includes saying precisely what you did that you are sorry for and what you will do in the future to make sure it never happens again.

An example would be, “I’m sorry, I took your car without asking. You told me not to, and I did it anyway. That was poor judgment on my part. I promise never to use anything of yours without asking again.” You have expressed that you genuinely know what you did and how you will behave differently to ensure this never happens again.

If you make a mistake with your words, you will need to make it right with your words. Many spouses are confused about why they can’t speak harshly and then send flowers to make everything okay. Words created the problem, so words are needed to fix it..

Woman with a confused and questioning look on her face illustrating self-forgiveness exercises.

Self-Forgiveness Exercise For When It’s Time To Move On #4: Do You Know Where You Went Wrong?

Understanding where you went wrong is one of the most essential parts of any Self-Forgiveness Exercise. Knowing where things got wonky, you will have self-made warning signs for the future. So yes, you know what comes next—a new piece of paper.

EXERCISE:

Write the topic you want to work on at the top. Then, write the question, “What went wrong?’ Was this something that you were too young to know better? Maybe it had nothing to do with age but everything to do with not understanding and little experience. Was it a poor choice or a mistake?

You may wonder what the difference is. A poor choice is when you know you could do something one way or another and choose the wrong one. A mistake usually involves not knowing what you didn’t know. Getting sushi when you don’t know you are allergic to shellfish is a mistake. Getting sushi from a gas station is a poor choice.

Written note next to coffee cup that says I can and I will.

Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move on #5: Do It Better Next Time.

The best way to move forward in self-forgiveness exercises is to work to do better next time. Hopefully, from the previous exercises, you know how the mistake, misstep, or big mess happened. Now, how do you do better next time? 7 Ways to Discover the Real You With Enchanted Perspectives

EXERCISE:

Another piece of your handy dandy paper is needed. With your self-forgiveness topic at the top, ask yourself a question. What would you do differently if this situation came up again? What have you learned? What would you do instead? How could the whole thing be avoided? For example, if the topic were that you keep getting arrested in bar room brawls, your “do it better” might be…don’t go to bars.

Woman making a heart using her hands with the words alongside of her you can do this offering encouragement to do the self-forgiveness exercises.

Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move On #6: Own That Humans Make Mistakes.

This exercise is more of a daily awareness and acknowledgment. So, no paper is needed this time. Just know and understand that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we make mistakes out of ignorance. Sometimes, we make poor choices because we don’t understand the consequences. Sometimes we don’t understand the assignment and just screw everything into a pile of poopy doo. It happens.

Your understanding of the other exercises will help you practice this one. Have a genuine intention of being the best you can be. However, hold compassion, knowing that self-forgiveness is the place to move forward. Remember the other exercises, and this one will take care of itself. Be as compassionate and kind to yourself as you are to others, and you will have even more goodness to share. You’ve Got This. It’s time to get good at Self-forgiveness.

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Pixi-Pebbles For Doing Your Self-Forgiveness Exercises…

Pixi-Pebbles are songs, quotes, videos, interviews, movie references, and books that we each personally pick for you.

We’ve used these little Pixi-Pebbles to move ourselves from a feeling we’re not enjoying very much…to a feeling that helps us discover our vision of intention, awareness, and direction.

They lead us to hope, possibilities, and a fire under our butt to live life by design instead of default.

In our blog, 6 Really Useful Self-Forgiveness Exercises For When It’s Time To Move On, here is a Pixi-Pebble that came to mind…

Just a little inspiration to get you from here to there…

Here is a meditation from Tara Brach to help you continue to cultivate self-compassion as your deepen your self-forgiveness. Click Here for the Tara Brach Self-Compassion Meditation. 

 
 

Meet Nikki:

Nikki has a way of making almost anything meaningful, interesting, and fun. She loves cats, believes you can learn a lot about yourself by shooting hoops in the park, and has a mad love affair with trees. As a Certified Neuro-linguistic Programming Practitioner, Intentional Living Mentor, Reiki Master, and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, she understands how to help others create change and has a talent for making you enjoy doing it.

Enchanted perspectives creator Nikki and Jennifer sitting against tree

Meet Jennifer:

Jennifer is a woman who definitely lives life by design. As an Artist, Certified Holistic Life Coach, Reiki Master Teacher, Spiritual Studies Mentor, and Certified EFT Practitioner, she helps others find their unique, magical, and authentic selves. She loves art, music, nature, travel and believes everyone can dance. Jennifer is a compassionate teacher that enjoys inspiring others to find their own creativity, intuition, and passion for life.
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