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How to forgive oneself?

(99 Posts)
Ramblingrose22 Sat 28-Jan-23 12:19:30

I am not sure if this is the right forum, but here goes.

I have been reflecting on how to forgive those who have been nasty or neglectful to me and when I mentioned it to a friend, she suggested that first I need to forgive myself. She meant for silly mistakes like the one I had told her about that day.

At first I was surprised by her suggestion, but having thought about it, I think she is right because I do feel that I am somehow a "bad" person and I don't know why. This belief has been making me feel very down lately.

Has anyone out there been through this and managed to forgive themselves?

If you have, please can you advise how you went about it?

Namsnanny Sat 28-Jan-23 12:38:59

Has anyone been through this and managed to forgive themselves?

Hmmm. Yes to the first part and no to the last.

Although I've given it a lot of thought.

I think it has to do with how you were treated in childhood.
I was the 'good' child for one parent and the 'bad' for the other.

It leaves an indelible mark on ones ability to see ones self as 'forgivable'.
If you understand what I mean.

VioletSky Sat 28-Jan-23 12:51:44

I don't feel forgiving those who are abusive and neglectful to you is necessary to health and healing.

I can see that forgiving yourself for tolerating it is beneficial.

I can see how forgiving yourself for reacting to it is beneficial.

We don't have to actively forgive people who hurt us to heal and if we want to forgive them because that's how we find peace, we still don't have to have a relationship with them in future.

M0nica Sat 28-Jan-23 13:24:55

I think we spend too mach time gazing at our navels over the trivial mistakes we all make, which would be much better spent just getting on with life.

All of us can look back to mistakes large and small we have made. They prove we are human, best way is to give s hrug, learn the lesson they have taught us and move on - and the same with other peoples errors. life i too short to hold grudges.

Ramblingrose22 Sat 28-Jan-23 19:24:03

Thanks to those who have replied. I agree with a lot of what you have said.

Namsnanny - yes, in my case it was probably to do with how I was treated by my mother who told me that I was a bad person many times, including when I was a young child, whereas my father adored me and that was mutual.

Recently I have realised that my mother was a very unhappy, embittered person who needed an outlet for her anger and I was a convenient target. She never apologised for anything she said or did as she always had to be right.

I haven't worked out yet what I need to to forgive myself for but it probably relates to regrets over past "mistakes" or where I wish I had dealt with something differently. But as M0nica has rightly said, we have all made mistakes because we're human so I doubt if I've made more or worse mistakes than anyone else.

I have been going through quite an anxious time lately so that is why I have been wondering if accepting myself by forgiving myself would be helpful.

Marydoll Sat 28-Jan-23 19:29:01

Ramblingrose, this could have been me writing this.

Recently I have realised that my mother was a very unhappy, embittered person who needed an outlet for her anger and I was a convenient target. She never apologised for anything she said or did as she always had to be right.

It was only many years after her death, that I was able to forgive my mother and realise it was not my fault. I blamed myself for the way she treated me, both child and adult.
I have at last made peace with myself.

Oreo Sat 28-Jan-23 19:39:19

I once read that dwelling on past behaviour and mistakes by yourself is a form of self indulgence, and I can see that.
If you think about the times you’ve gone wrong in your life, then either dismiss those times as nothing to worry about, or if they are something to worry about but the person is no longer there to apologise to, then regret what you did and then forgive yourself.And move on.
If somebody else left you feeling hurt, then forgive them in your head and put it behind you.
How you were treated by your Mother donkeys years ago shouldn’t be niggling at you still.

Marydoll Sat 28-Jan-23 19:44:17

How you were treated by your Mother donkeys years ago shouldn’t be niggling at you still.

That's quite harsh Oreo, if it continued into adulthood on a daily basis and caused you to come close to a breakdown.

VioletSky Sat 28-Jan-23 19:45:14

A negative inner voice doesn't belong to you Rose it's the voice of your mother.

We all have an inner adult an inner parent an and inner child.

People who had a positive mother often have a positive inner parent voice and are able to more easily able to cope with mistakes in a positive way.

You can Google it, it's called "Parent, adult, child model"

You need to stand up to that negative inner voice of your mother. Tell it to shh.

If you have made mistakes, you can apologise and be accountable or you can learn and grow from them and be better for the future

That's what mistakes are for

I hope you find peace

Oreo Sat 28-Jan-23 19:49:54

My comment wasn’t to you marydoll just a general sort of thing.
Many mothers weren’t great and some were downright awful or neglectful, but once we’re adults we have to decide to live our lives, either without mothers in them ( if they are that bad) or to put up with any foibles and forgive them and move on.
If we don’t it impacts our own lives in a bad way.

Marydoll Sat 28-Jan-23 19:52:22

Oreo thank you. It has taken me nearly 67 years to forgive and move on.
The positive aspect is that I have always tried so hard to be a loving mother to my own children. I didn't always get it right, but they have never doubted my love for them.

VioletSky Sat 28-Jan-23 19:53:12

I don't think any person suffering mental health issues due to an abusive childhood have ever been cured by advice alone the lines of "get over it"

Have you had any success with that Oreo?

Grannmarie Sat 28-Jan-23 19:56:45

From my prayerbook...

For the healing of hurts and resentments,
And the grace to forgive ourselves and others,
Lord hear our prayer.

dragonfly46 Sat 28-Jan-23 19:57:13

It’s funny that you posted this as I have just realised that the faults I have seen in an old friend over the years have probably been caused by my behaviour.
If I called her she didn’t answer, when we went away with friends she concentrated on them etc.

She has been very ill recently but we met up in July and I felt after that we would not see her and her husband again but recently she phoned me and arranged to meet up for a few days.
She used to say I was too efficient and independent. Maybe she has always thought I was confident which is ironic as I am not but I am good at pretending.

I realise I have been given the opportunity to make things right and show her I care.

Oreo Sat 28-Jan-23 20:01:26

Yes VioletSky indeed I have.
Many years ago I decided to forgive them and move on with my own life.It may leave scars, but even scars heal.
We only have one life.

Good for you Marydoll I’ve done the same for my kids too,
I know I made some mistakes with them, but always gave them praise and love if not all that much in material things.
I know they love me too, so that counts as

VioletSky Sat 28-Jan-23 20:04:44

OK Oreo i'll chew it over

Wyllow3 Sat 28-Jan-23 20:13:13

Oreo, some of us have needed quite a bit of MH help to begin to forgive ourselves.

Whilst I'm glad you have made this journey and have let things go, not everyone can do this.

It's not selfish or indulgent when the outcome is positive in the end, its entirely essential.

It can take lifetimes, or a shorter time: we are all very different.

ExperiencedNotOld Sat 28-Jan-23 20:17:19

Personally, I believe forgiveness is wasted on things past. Learn from them, vow not to repeat the issue, and move on. Tomorrow is always a new day. The past is done.

Oreo Sat 28-Jan-23 20:20:29

I didn’t say it was self indulgent Wyllow but that I had read it described as that.I do see why, it prevents the moving on and healing.
Yes, we are all very different it’s true, but at some point everyone has to let go of those feelings.

Urmstongran Sat 28-Jan-23 20:38:03

I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Sums up what I think perfectly.
I agree with you Oreo. It doesn’t ‘do’ to ruminate too long.
It’s like picking a scab on your knee.
Eventually you’ll just make it bleed again.

Wyllow3 Sat 28-Jan-23 20:44:42

OK, understood, Oreo, take your point.

Oh Urms - you have a very robust mind - I'm truly glad it's that way for you, but for some of us not unpicking the past is more damaging than "going into it so you can come out of it".

its not "all bad" either, in the way one might imagine - through some of the difficulties in working out why we haven't been able to forgive ourselves enough to move on -

there is joy also in the good remembered moments that might have been forgotten and clouded over. For some of us there has to be some considerable darkness to find the light.

M0nica Sat 28-Jan-23 20:51:36

I think we need to learn to step back from our childhoods (unless they were traumatically dreadful) and just accept they were not perfect and move on.

I had a very caring mother but we were on different wave lengths, talked different languages, the things that she worried about with me, caused me no worry at all. My worries passed her by. We were at odds for a lot of my childhood. She had her own insecurities, from her own childhood, which I realised when I was older.

I used to talk a lot to try and explain myself to her, then one day in my late 30s/early 40s, it just occurred to me that I would never succeed, so I let out a big breath and just accepted her for what she was. There were things I just avoided talking about, other things I explained in terms she understood even though they weren't accurate.

Of course we all have regrets about things we did or didn't do in the past. But there is rarely anything we can do about it, so we just have to learn to live with it.

There is a prayer, called for goor reason the 'Serenity' prayer. It goes as follows:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ramblingrose22 Sat 28-Jan-23 20:52:19

Thanks to all for these further contributions. Wyllow3 - what is MH please?

To have had my mother tell me from a young age when I was dependent on her that I was a bad person and that there was something wrong with me was like a form of conditioning so I believed it for a long time. I was shy and found it difficult to make friends at school because of what she had said. I have always been very sensitive and worried about others' opinions and I sought approval constantly.

Like Marydoll's mother mine kept this up throughout my adult life and until the day she died at 91. She never forgave those who had used her as slave labour and nearly ended her life during theSecond World War and took it out on me. Like Marydoll it took me until I was in my 60's to understand why she had done it and that has helped me to forgive her. Now I have to forgive myself to move onwards, hence my post.

VioletSky - I hadn't considered that my critical inner voice is my mother's voice. It is helpful because if I am prepared to forgive her then I should be prepared to forgive her voice and to disregard anything she and the voice say to me about myself. That should help me to forgive myself.

Wyllow3 Sat 28-Jan-23 20:52:49

Just to explain what I mean a bit more - theres a great difference between ruminating on the past round and round, versus revisiting it in order to learn and heal.

Urmstongran Sat 28-Jan-23 21:04:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.