Why We Can’t Forgive Ourselves

“It’s one of the greatest gift you can give yourself, to forgive.  Forgive everybody”

– Maya Angelou

We all make mistakes.  Our mistakes come in every size: small, medium, and large.  Regardless of the size of the mistake, if it just hurt ourselves or others, if they were done by accident, carelessness or even intentionally, they were just mistakes.  Every one of us wants to put them in the past and forgive ourselves.  Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done.

Why do we make mistakes?

The simple answer is because we are human beings.  Being human means, we are flawed, we are not perfect.

Making mistakes is often the easy part.  Forgiving ourselves may be easy when the mistake is small and very difficult (if not impossible) when the mistake is large.

Does the size of the mistake really matter?

The short answer is: Yes and No.

Yes.  When we make small mistakes, we often experience more embarrassment than we do discomfort.  When we make a medium sized mistake, we often feel an equal amount of embarrassment to our discomfort level.   When we make large mistakes our level of embarrassment is much larger.  The only thing that could possibly be larger is our discomfort level.

No, because at the end of the day, it is still a mistake.

Does the reason we make a mistake really matter?

No.  They are all mistakes, regardless of it the mistake was caused by accident or intentionally, it was a mistake.  It was a choice, either involuntary or voluntary, that we had made in the past that we now regret.

The road to forgiveness.

We are going to make mistakes and we are equipped and wired to learn from those mistakes.  If we can learn something from every mistake and apply it to making ourselves better people, then the mistake may be worth it. 

That does not mean that forgiving ourselves for our mistakes will always be easy.  Sometimes the largest obstacle between ourselves and forgiveness is our ability to forgive.

How we forgive others will determine if we can forgive ourselves

When someone you know makes a mistake can you forgive them? 

Your answer probably depends on many factors:  was the mistake small or big?  Did your friend admit his or her mistake or act as if they did nothing wrong?  Did the mistake hurt you? 

Your answer may depend on if you have been forgiven for your mistakes in the past.

Your answer may be influenced by outside factors, such as how our society judges those who make mistakes.

How society influences our ability to forgive.

Do you allow the court of public opinion to influence you? 

Ask yourself this question: “How do I react when I hear about someone else mistakes or misfortunes?”  Your answer to that question could explain why you have trouble forgiving yourself.

If you hear of someone going through a divorce, do you have empathy for what they are going through, or do you criticize them for their mistakes?

If you hear about someone committing a crime, do you assume they are guilty before they even go to trial?  Do you want the suspect to receive the maximum sentence?  Do you cheer when the suspect is found guilty and sentenced?

It doesn’t matter if the person who made the mistake is someone you knew or didn’t know, it doesn’t matter of the person is famous or infamous, if you do not show mercy and forgiveness toward others, you will have trouble forgiving yourself because we are the hardest on ourselves.