Forgiveness is hard enough, but when you’re the person you can’t forgive, it’s even more challenging. We are our own worst critic and in order to heal we must forgive ourselves. How can we learn to forgive ourselves?

Write it out – take out a pen and paper and write down everything you feel about the situation.

Get honest with yourself about your behavior. Where did the behavior that led to your resentment come from? Was it from a place of selfishness, insecurity or fear? Did someone or something challenge your ego? Were you being judgmental of someone or something? Were you in fear of losing someone or something? Get brutally honest…sometimes we have to get below the surface to find the real reason for our actions.

When we’re judgmental of others, it’s because we see something in them we don’t like about ourselves.

It may not be something about our character today, but based on a character defect we used to possess or one that we’re in fear of possessing because it reminds us of something we haven’t dealt with. Learn to accept others for who they are, who they were and who they’re becoming. The only thing we can control is our own behavior; therefore it should be the only thing we concern ourselves with.

We do all kinds of stupid things when we’re living in fear… (Or, maybe I’m alone in this one?!)

Especially if we’re in fear of losing someone or something…been there! Our ego is in constant fear of death. It’ll do whatever it takes to win and winning sometimes means clinging. Clinging, and trying to control someone or something, can appear as passive aggressive or some other form of manipulative behavior. Unfortunately, when we use manipulation to get something we want we set expectations. When our expectations aren’t met, we act out in frustration and end up hurting people in the process; inevitably losing that which we feared. In essence, we create what we fear the most just by living in fear.

Did someone or something challenge your ego?

Maybe the situation ensued because you were trying to protect your ego? I lived in this place for a LONG time and it’s still a struggle at times. When our ego is challenged we’ll say or do things we don’t really mean to protect it. We don’t need to…nothing we, or someone else, says or does changes who we are on a deeper level. When we realize this our ego is no longer running the show and we see that we have nothing to prove. People challenge my character to this day. It doesn’t change who I am unless I allow it to.

Now that you know the cause of your actions, take action and correct it.

Apologize to the person you hurt; asking for forgiveness is an act of compassion. When you make your apology, be sure it’s coming from a genuine place and you’re truly empathetic. Be frank about what you discovered to be the cause of your behavior. People can sense honesty, integrity and vulnerability. It’s easier for someone to forgive you if they can feel that you really mean what you’re saying.

If apologizing isn’t an option, decide now that you’ll correct the behavior moving forward. As time goes on you’ll begin to forgive yourself through changing the way you live and getting back to your core values. This is a process and takes time, but I promise if you’re diligent in changing you’ll start to love the person you are. Self-love is imperative to forgiving yourself.

Getting brutally honest with yourself isn’t easy, but it does get easier.

If you’re apology has already been accepted and you’re still having a hard time forgiving yourself, be patient. Bringing the cause of your actions to light takes vulnerability. Vulnerability allows you to see that you’re not a bad person, you just made a mistake. We are human and we’re allowed to make mistakes! Without them there would be no growth. If you can see that every perceived failure is an opportunity for growth you’ll start to appreciate the lesson, instead of beating yourself up for the mistake. When you have compassion for who you were in that moment it becomes easier to forgive yourself for your actions.

Continue to check your intentions on a daily basis. When I’m going through a particularly difficult life situation, I sometimes have to do this hourly, but it’s better than constantly living in regret for the same mistakes. Remember, the lesson repeats until learned. The more you practice self-honesty, and continue to check your intentions, the easier it becomes until eventually it’s just natural.

Also, if you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself it means your actions weren’t in line with your core values and beliefs. It may be hard to grasp, but that’s a good thing to be aware of. See that you are an amazing human being full of love and compassion. If you weren’t you wouldn’t feel the guilt, shame and regret.

Give it away and it’ll come back. When you treat others with love and respect, you’ll start to love the person you are. When you love who you are it’s easier to let go and forgive yourself. It’s a cycle that starts with having compassion for others and comes right back around to having compassion for yourself. It’s much better than the cycle of poor decisions, regret and shame. Like a friend of mine so eloquently says “sit in your shit, or change your diaper.”