Ways to practice forgiveness towards yourself

Updated: Aug 10

Recently I've talked about five ways to demonstrate self-compassion and ways you could start to practice these. I mentioned:

Over five posts I’ll take each in turn to give a more detail about what it means, and how you can start to introduce each in your day to day. The links are above to the other posts.


So forgiveness... Why are forgiveness and self-compassion so linked?


Forgiveness requires you to be kind to yourself and accept that you are whole as you are. It means letting go of the things that you can’t control, of the things that aren’t as you wish them to be for now and of the actions that you are less proud of.


We rarely think of forgiveness as an act to show ourselves. We think of forgiving others or letting things go with other people. But how often do we do that for ourselves?


I can recall so many occasions when I’d done, said or acted in a way that I was not happy with. Rather than taking what lessons I could from that and moving on, I ruminate over and over about that one thing.

Most of the time, these are small things that I can’t change. Things like over-indulging and then beating myself up. Or saying yes to something I didn’t really want to do and then berating myself for not being stronger.

Through forgiveness, you can begin to slow these constant spirals of self-talk. These are some things that I find useful;

> Accept what’s done is done - It is in the past, there is not much you can change about that. Beating yourself up will only prolong the pain.

> Take the learnings - What can you learn from the experience or your feelings about the experience?

> Acknowledge your role - Taking responsibility for your actions helps release a weight from your shoulders. Rather than thinking ‘They did this to me’, shifting the narrative to ‘I chose to…’ is more freeing that you’d think.

> Review what’s real - Often it’s easy to get caught up in stories of what people think or things that could happen. It helps to note what is absolute truth and what is made up.

> Journal it out - Writing things down helps to release pressure. It helps to dissipate negative feelings towards yourself but also helps identify patterns so you can begin to change the ones that don’t serve you.

> Be kind - Talk to yourself with kindness. We can use such harsh language towards ourselves ‘You’re so stupid for doing x.’ ‘You’re an idiot, why didn’t you just think x.’. Change the words to those you would use with a friend. ‘You were doing your best’.

‘What do you forgive yourself for today?’ is a freeing question to ask yourself regularly. It reminds me that it is ok not to be ‘perfect’ and that you can make mistakes, learn from them and move on.


I believe it to be one of the best ways to show yourself compassion.


The original post Five ways to demonstrate self-compassion outlines all five ways to introduce you to living with more compassion. You may also find the following posts of interest:


Slowing down to practice self-compassion

How to practice mindfulness to create more self-compassion

To really connect with your well-being and learn to prioritise your self-care, I offer a 'Back to well-being' programme to help you go back to basics, here.

Gemma Brown Coaching

Gemma Brown is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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