Forgiveness: The 4 Most Important Steps to Forgiving Yourself

by The Relationship Guy
May 27, 2015

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The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 

Mahatma Ghandi

We all make mistakes. We all make the wrong choices.  We all fall, at some point in our lives.

What we choose to do with that, however, will make all the difference to our life.

Do I choose to hang onto it, chastising myself constantly and continually, or do I employ the power for forgiveness?

Sometimes, it’s difficult to forgive your own missteps.

You feel really rotten when you’ve let yourself or someone else down.

But one day, you have to allow the sun to shine again.

But it can be challenging.

I’ve had coaching clients in the past who have been carrying around mistakes for more than a decade, and their minds, health and bodies showed it.

It’s like cancer eating away at you from the inside out.

This 4-step forgiveness process can help you forgive yourself and move on with your life:

1. Confront your mistake.

In all circumstances, take responsibility for your error.

Come face to face with it and acknowledge where you stumbled.

As painful as it might be, this is the first step to forgiving yourself.

It’s sometimes helpful to look in the mirror and say aloud what you did.

It connects you with the action.

It also helps you realise that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Therapy can help if the first option doesn’t do the trick.

Talking to someone else may help you release feelings that are tied down inside.

2. Analyse the impact.

Take a moment to reflect on the outcome of your actions.

Who has been affected?

How badly were you or others hurt?

Take it all at face value, and avoid embellishing it with undeserved emotion.

Take the time to consider the impact outside of what you initially see.

It’s sometimes easy to overlook the smaller impact when the greater one is overwhelming.

3. Accept your human imperfections.

Above all, be kind to yourself.

Remind yourself that you’re human.

There’s nobody on the face of the earth who goes through life without making mistakes.

However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t excuse what happened.

While accepting your human imperfections, take the time to identify your shortcomings.

Use the opportunity to work on aspects of yourself that you might want to improve.

Perhaps you’d like to further develop certain character traits or strengthen your skills in particular areas.

When apologising to yourself and others, you can point out that everybody makes mistakes, but you’ve learned from yours and have every intention of not repeating it.

4. Challenge yourself to do better.

The crucial final step to self-forgiveness is challenging yourself to do better.

In the previous step, you accepted your imperfections.

Now it’s time to work at fixing the things you can.

Is it that you need to learn to be nicer to others?

You can work on that through conscious effort or group therapy.

Try not to repeat the same mistake.

That’s one of the easiest ways to backslide and end up at square one again.

Ask your supportive friends and family to help you on your journey.

Remember that no man is an island.

Making things right might not happen overnight.

What’s important is that you forgive yourself and commit to turning things around.

You’re full of so much potential.

That potential sits unused while you consume yourself with negative energy.

Lift yourself up! 

And if you feel you can’t, then you MUST!

Come to terms with the fact that you have so much more to give to the world.

Withholding it would be a grave mistake and shame.

So, chip away at the negativity until all that’s left is your renewed spirit.

Allow only flowers to bloom in your life again, and get rid of the weeds with everything you’ve got and at all cost.

About the author 

The Relationship Guy

Gideon Hanekom is the founder of, a top-50 relationship blog (2021) and top-100 marriage blog (2021) which focuses on providing healthy relationship advice about love and life. He earned a Master's degree in theological studies before training as a professional counsellor almost 10 years ago. He also completed graduate studies in Psychology and is currently pursuing postgraduate Psychology studies at Massey University. He has been married to his wife for over seventeen years and is the dad of two children. His articles have been published on and The Good Men Project.

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