Why is it Harder to Forgive Yourself than to Forgive Others?

by Jayne Kopp on April 11, 2011

forgiving yourself, self forgiveness

Why is it that it’s very difficult to forgive yourself yet often we forgive others with much less effort?

Furthermore, why is it that we beat ourselves up for making mistakes, yet will be the first one to tell someone else that everybody makes them and to “let it go”?

Naturally, I don’t know if you have ever been in the position where you have battled to forgive yourself about anything or not, but I can tell you I have and it ‘aint’ easy!

I spent a good couple of years curled up like a fetus feeling so badly because I felt that I was the main contributor in a huge way to cause my divorce.

What’s worse, is that when I finally got my head around the fact that it takes two to tangle… despite hearing this and having the support of countless friends and family, I then shifted the reason for self loath to the fact that I wished I tried harder to salvage things. (I wouldn’t let myself win!)

Battling with self forgiveness is very painful.

I am not sure if it’s because we set such high standards for ourselves, and find it difficult to deal with personal disappointment, or what the scoop is, but what I can tell you is that if you are suffering in the same way I did, you simply have got to get a grip!

Think about it for a moment: Rarely would we hold someone to such a high degree of perfectionism, so why do we torture ourselves?

All I can say is if you are battling with personal disappointment and can’t seem to let go of it, you need to make it a priority in order to enjoy your life effective immediately!

I realize you might feel it’s easier said than done. I know I’m not living inside your mind, but believe me… I know! :-|

You must realize that you are doing nothing more than locking yourself in a private jail cell carrying your shortfalls around like a ball and chain.

If you are unable to forgive yourself, you are only harming yourself by damaging your health, both mentally and physically.

There is a heck of a chance you are listening to mind chatter, day in, day out which in turn causes immense stress that can lead to further illness.

I found that I allowed myself to beat myself to a pulp so often that I literally was in a state of depression! :-(

I will to admit that I’m an overly sensitive soft “apeth” anyway… or “as soft a boiled turnip” as my mother will say. :-) I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having a heart but there does come time where one simply has to toughen up.

Making yourself sick doesn’t do you any good, not to mention anybody else in your life.

For me, I had my children to look after and certainly didn’t want them to know how I felt, or worse have memories of their mother being unhappy when they looked back on their childhood.

If you truly want to make the best of this short stint on earth, then forgiving yourself must be made a priority.

So how do you forgive yourself then?

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First and very importantly you have to realize the past is the past and no amount of wallowing is going to change that. (As much as you may wish you could re-wind andlive life over)

Whatever you ‘did’ that bothers you so much likely feels much worse to you than it does anyone else.

The human mind is a cruel tool sometimes… (It can be awesome other times) but if not kept in check it seems to magnify the severity of personal shortfalls.

Realize that you are human. Humans make mistakes. It’s just part of the journey through life. If God can forgive us, then surely we must learn to forgive ourselves.

I feel that we should indeed ‘own’ or take responsibility for our mistake(s), but more importantly we should look at it/them as lessons and then make a commitment to learn from it/them and finally release the burden.

Reassure yourself that it’s ok to have felt anger and sorrow toward your actions, and I do believe you must face it, but you then must simmer down just the same way you likely would if somebody else was the perpetrator.

Be kind to yourself and concentrate on your good points. I feel this is an imperative part of self forgiveness and we need to address our positives to re-train our brains after letting our minds develop such negative habits of self remorse.

If you are loathing yourself and give credit to the thoughts or negativities of another person, realize it is impossible to live your life in accordance with the expectations or opinions of someone else. Instead you must realize you must live solely for your own purposes.

I can tell you from first hand experience that if you spend all your time living in the past and spending your energy wasting your life on things you cannot change, not only are you not living in the present, but you are making it impossible to move forward as well and life is much too short. (As I’ve also realized).

Whatever it takes, whether it’s spending time with your maker, getting the help of a councillor, you really must find a way to free yourself. Reliving your destructing thoughts and putting yourself through “it” is nothing but self torture and will serve no good purpose.

Remember you don’t need forgiveness for being YOU… so ensure you channel the forgiveness at what you did not who you are. A shortfall or personal disappointment does not erase your self worth.

Make a physical note of any ideas that might help you alleviate your self sabotage. For example: Is there anything you might be able to do that would help make things right?

Could you apologize to someone?

Admittedly, this would not always work in every situation and to be honest, I feel that this is what killed me personally. I was never given the opportunity to sit down and communicate.

My ex would never, and will never give me the opportunity to talk things through. It’s very difficult when this is the case and that is why it is so important to adopt as many alternate suggestions as possible.

Something to keep in mind too is not to associate with people who enjoy talking about your past or throwing sand in your face. If there are others associated with the time in your life that you are battling with, I would suggest distancing myself if I were you.

Of course there are some who might be very supportive, but then there are others who enjoy dwelling on negatives.

Surround yourself in positive energy and support systems.

Take on a hobby in order to treat yourself to some personal pleasure. If you find something you enjoy that is personally rewarding, it will often keep your mind occupied, not to mention it might be quite fulfilling when you see progress or a finished product.

To be honest, this is one of the main reasons I became involved in personal development and building my business in this industry online. It worked wonders for me and that is one of the main reasons I am so passionate about sharing my own experiences.

I hope this post might offer at least a few suggestions to help you if you are struggling with forgiving yourself.

It’s so important to realize that life is full of wonderful possibilities; it would be a shame to miss out of the blessings and opportunities in life that await you.

You must recognize that is truly is impossible to be present and live in the moment, not to mention move forward and enjoy life if your own inability to forgive yourself has you stuck firmly in the past.

You really to need to realize that happiness is a choice that you must make and to succeed you need to forgive yourself. If you need any assistance whatsoever, please feel free to contact me at any time.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

unknown fear January 9, 2012 at 2:35 am

Hi Jayne,

I really feel like talking to you and crying buckets….Jayne i am very supersensitive (boiled turnip :) )and it has always been difficult for me to say no…being a leo I always went in search of limelight…or may be appreciation…(more than Leo..it has lot to do with the kind of failure i experienced at each stage of my life..)I met a guy when i was in 12th grade …we were in relationship for three years and later i felt neglected and we had a break-up…in little time i fell in love with one more guy…and this time i felt i made a right choice..the guy is really nice…i tried to keep him happy in all possible ways..he is very introvert and he wanted me to stay away from all boys in the world..so i stayed…we continued together for all 6 years…we exceld in our career..i was the one who took all initiatives…all efforts…and all the burden/stress/tension…whatever….during 6 years we were very busy with our lives setting up our careers….and i was very career oriented so i dint allow myself to bother with the problems we had in between…now when we settled in our careers…i started feeling lack of attention from him….i used to get depressed by his negative outlook at everything in life….i always wanted to live life…enjoy it…but it never happened bcoz he was limited energy ..not romantic….it was then time for me to get married …then i started feeling that this is not the guy because he dint lived up to my expectations….i felt horrified out of once again making a wrong choice in life..i dint knew should i wait and give some time to our relation…or what..in all this i met a old friend of mine who used to like me….and he is exactly of my type…but it was all infatuation and i was happy to be with him the way i really am….but somehow i dint go away from my 2nd guy…i hided from him n kept in relation with the third guy….i was caught after 6 months…i felt horrified….i realised the wrong i did…i did not even tell to the 3rd guy about my past..so his trust was broken too…the 2nd guy was as such very restricted..he behaved very hard with me…i somehow sared begging forgiveness to him..the 3rd guy forgived me…but i m still fighting daily with the 2nd guy..he says i am characterless…when i feel i am not ..whatever happened was a mistake…i went wrong and i am sorry for that….somehow he understands it for a while than again starts digging the past..i dont know what do i do??should i go and marry him??I really dont know.the worst part is i got indulged in physical realtion with all 3 guys and my 2nd and 3rd guy know this…the 2nd guy now tracks my every activity and hes kind of very angry..i dont know what should i do??My parents want to marry me as per their choice..i dont know what do i do..JAyne pls help me…i beg u..plzzz…

Reply

Jayne Kopp January 23, 2012 at 12:05 am

Hello my dear ‘Unknown”… I am sorry for not replying earlier to this plea… after you poured your heart out. I feel your pain. Being a Leo…I can relate to my fellow Leo very well.

Life can certainly throw a curve ball at us because we are career oriented and play a strong leadership roll. We also expect the same from others too.

At the same time, we are very sensitive and things really bother us when they don’t turn out the way we envision. It’s likely because we work so hard at things and put 200% into everything we do.

Why don’t you email me through this site and lets set up a time to talk on Skype?? I am sure we can get a few issues sorted in your mind and you can re explain. This message above gave me the flavour of your pain, but I think if you slow down a bit and break it down in chunks we can chew on it for a while.

Do that… email me through the contact form up top… and lets Skype and get you feeling better.

Jayne

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Mike Carabini April 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

If you want your life to be more satisfying so that you can have more satisfying relationships .. To forgive another person does not mean you will forget what happened or that the person is not responsible for what he did or that you need to bring him back into your life. To forgive means you acknowledge that while you would have preferred the other person act or speak differently you accept that person just as he is.

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Mavis Nong April 13, 2011 at 3:38 am

Hey Jayne,

A very powerful message in this post. If you can forgive others, surely you need to work towards forgiving yourself.

You’re so right: “f you are unable to forgive yourself, you are only harming yourself by damaging your health, both mentally and physically.”

It’s not worth it, forgive yourself and live happily!

Thanks for sharing, Jayne.

All the best,
Mavis
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Jayne Kopp April 13, 2011 at 11:29 am

Hello Mavis, I totally agree… but it is the hardest thing a person can go through especially if they are over sensitive.

I do believe (well I actually know) that personal disappointment really affects brain chemistry. We really need to keep an eye on the way our systems react to grief, stress, shock and disappointment because heaven forbid we could find a way to point blame at yourself during these weak times, you have a heck of a battle on your hands.

thanks for leaving such a great comment!

Jayne

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Steve Nicholas April 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Great post, Jayne! I know that I kicked myself for the longest time because of things that I’d done in the past. I know that when I ran for House of Delegates, I kicked myself for mistakes that I made, but the irony is that because I lost in such a landslide, my depression really only lasted a couple of days, because I knew deep down that there really wasn’t anything I could do. However, the losing candidate for County Commission that year in the other party told me that he was depressed about it for about six weeks, and there were times where he still felt like he was drowning. His margin of defeat? 124 votes out of over 9000 cast.

I think that we beat up on ourselves more when we think of all of the ways we could have changed our situation to make them better (and sometimes in politics, it’s hard because you know exactly how many people voted against you: in my case, it was 4063 vs. 2432 who supported me). However, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we wouldn’t be where we are today without all of our experiences, including the mistakes.
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Jayne Kopp April 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hi Steve, I do believe that we do occasionally look for things to blame on ourselves. For example if you were ‘very’ close where votes were concerned, lets say 10 away… you would have beaten yourself up even more for not making the effort to campaign just that tiny bit harder, or knock on 10 more doors….

I guess because you were safely in the middle, you were able to digest the results.

We could always do things differently, but sometimes we just have to be happy at the way things worked and give ourselves credit for doing the best we knew how to at the time.

Thanks steve

Jayne

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Andrea Bolder April 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Great post Jayne!
Forgiveness boils down to unconditional love for self. When you have a strong relationship with your inner self it becomes easier to forgive – not only others but yourself as well. Forgiveness is a choice and we have to be willing to open up and love ourselves first in order to have a peaceful and happy spirit free of conflict and negative energy.
Awesome post =)
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Jayne Kopp April 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hi Andrea, lovely to meet you. You are correct in saying much comes from our relationship with our inner self. For sure this is an important consideration. I think that sometimes though when you know what..hits the fan, all the stresses and things that go along with the situation make it difficult to recognize our own personal value.

building and strengthening our own self worth definitely goes a long way.

thanks for stopping by to leave such a great comment!

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Marty April 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

“If God can forgive us, then surely we must learn to forgive ourselves. ”
I love that statement.
For very different reasons I found it very difficult to forgive myself for things I’d not got right. Worse was putting myself down and taking on the responsibility of the mistakes of others. Forgiving ourselves is one thing, but taking responsibility for the mistakes of others that they may have forgiven THEMSELVES for anyway makes an unmanageable burden.
This is a great post Jayne.
I’ve come across so many people that cannot forgive even the smallest of mistakes. I’ve been there too.

I sense and feel your passion on this subject.

Bless you!
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Jayne Kopp April 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thanks for stopping by Marty. You are right I am very passionate about this topic because I understand all too well the pain associated with it… but also how ridiculous it is.

Yes… we certainly are funny creatures. Some people can just let things be like water off a ducks back, while some of us tend to own not only our responsibilities, but everyone elses too!

Thanks again, I’m glad you liked the post.

Jayne

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Android Addict April 12, 2011 at 7:37 am

I think women are especially prone to this, since we have a much stronger tendency to internalize everything, probably because many of us are mothers who have constantly self-critiqued our own parenting, creating a habit for self-critique that is hard to break. Men, for the most part, tend to look for external reasons for problems and often find them whether they exist or not. ;-)

I play a musical instrument, and started playing pretty late in life. It was really tough shutting that inner critic’s mouth so I could just have fun with it. The instrument I chose was one of the hardest to learn to play, and after only a couple years I played my first paying gig, so I had to have done something right. But I still sound AWFUL to myself. I’ve learned to just ignore the inner critic. Otherwise I’d go nuts (or maybe I should say more nuts!)

Great blogpost. Thanks!

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Jayne Kopp April 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hello there Android Addict! Thanks for stopping. I believe women can certainly be a little more sensitive, but of course that’s not always the case. I know what you’re saying and actually, I recently did a post (last week on differences between men and women… but anyway… I digress)

The inner critic is another horrible thing too… a little different than forgiveness I think but along the same idea for sure. It all has to do with liking ourselves and we humans are wierdly wired.

I appreciate you stopping by. I am sure you are a great musician!

Thanks again,

Jayne

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Tosin April 12, 2011 at 3:28 am

Hey Jayne,

Being meaning to come here for a while, and I’m glad I’m finally here. And I like it here. :)

Forgiving oneself is key. If we do not love ourselves, who do we expect to receive the love that others have to give to us.

We do not have the power to change whatever we have done in the past, but we can sure choose what we want to do in the present, which ultimately determine the future.

Thanks for the insights, Jayne!

Kind regards!
Tosin
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Jayne Kopp April 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Hi Tosin, How wonderful to meet you. I appreciate you stopping by and next time, let me know… I’ll put the kettle on! (groan!!)

Yes,… you know I guess we do start to dislike ourselves if we have caused ourselves disappointment. We tend to question everything about us.

I actually did a post a short while ago about how important it is to like yourself. All of our emotions are so interwoven and we are so complex that often there are a variety of reasons we can make ourselves feel so bad.

Thanks for your awesome comment to add value to this post. Please come again.

By the way… affirmations are on my list very soon… within the next week or so.

Talk to you soon.

Jayne

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