32 Things to Forgive Yourself for Right Now to Start Living Your Best Life

Repeat after me: I’m greater than my darkest moments.

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“I can’t always be in control and that’s ok” It’s one of the things I’ve had to routinely tell myself to keep my peace of mind. Life happens and things don’t always go my way. Sometimes, it’s at the hands of the universe. And sometimes it’s because I screwed it up. Regardless of the outcome, which I can’t control, I can control my reaction and overcome it. When it doesn’t go as planned you need to forgive yourself for it. 

Unfortunately, my reaction hasn’t always been that great; especially when I’m the one who screwed up. I’ve made so many mistakes over the years. And like many people, I beat myself up about it for a while and then convinced myself that I’ll have life figured out soon. But I never do and the cycle continues. Of course, It took me nearly 30 years to realize  I will never have it all figured out. Not having all the answers. It’s what makes life interesting.

And as interesting as life may be, it doesn’t make dealing with those mistakes any easier. However, I’ve learned that if I want to move forward, I need to stop looking at the past regretfully and dwelling on it. Instead, I must look back on it, forgive myself and acknowledge the lessons I’ve learned from them.

As of late, the popular method for moving forward and overcoming has been to reframe what happened. Obviously, you can’t change the past. But you can actively reframe your like by being aware of the thoughts you have around that situation. It’s not the answer to everything but reframing your life and things that troubled you can be helpful in forgiving yourself.

Forgiving yourself may not always be easy, but it’s necessary if you ever want to grow and move forward in life. In case you are having trouble, I’ve listed 30 of the common mistakes made and have trouble forgiving ourselves for. Read through them, remember the time and lessons, and use them to make better decisions. Then use them to reframe your life as necessary. And of course, be proud as those mistakes made you the person you are now.

person sitting on the dock with hands up facing the water
Regrets happen. But life gets much easier when you forgive yourself for them

  1. Putting your dreams on hold

Kiss the regret and the life you could have lived goodbye. Say hello to the life you are capable of creating and living. Time may have passed by, but your dreams didn’t. You still have a chance to take that first step towards your goal no matter how tiny. It may be the hardest step to take, but it will be worth it.

2. Falling in love with the wrong person

Matters of the heart don’t always come easy. Even if it was the wrong person. Be proud you were able to love at all and the lessons that followed because of it.

3. Taking out that student loan

It’s hard to forgive yourself for a decision that follows you around like a dark cloud for so long. But once you realize the experiences and lessons (good and bad) those student loans awarded you, it may not seem so bad after all. Things were different back then and college has changed. Don’t blame yourself for doing what you thought was right at the time. Think of it as a life lesson.

4. Finding your passion “so late” in life

Contrary to popular belief, no one expects you to be enlightened at 21. While your peers always seemed so sure, you took the time to explore what truly made your heart sing. Don’t worry about how long it took you to find it. Be happy that you found it at all. If you haven’t found it yet, you are well on your way.

5.  The relationship where you weren’t “all there”

Though sometimes we wish it wasn’t true, you can’t force love, and that includes yourself. You can’t make yourself love someone who isn’t right for you. Sometimes trying to “get it right” for so long is just proof that the relationship is wrong for you both. It was probably best to stop trying to get it right so love could grow better elsewhere.

6. The bridges you’ve burned

People change and relationships change. And while things may not always end the way you would like, trust that everything has its season. Though it may not have been pleasant, the season ended when it was necessary. Whoever it was that exited your life served their purpose. Should this person in which you burned a bridge is meant to be a part of your life, the lesson hasn’t been learned and will reappear when the time is right.

7.  The bridges you should have burned but didn’t 

The relative who’s continuously pushing buttons, the friend who rarely celebrates your wins, and the coworker who only appears when they need something… They are all still around and draining your energy. If you’re mad at yourself for continuously allowing these people access to you, you are not alone. Instead, we were taught that “life is too short” which translated into “stop holding grudges and keep all the good and bad in reach.” Now, you know that life is too long to spend it with people who rob you of time, energy, and respect. 

Learning how to cut ties and set boundaries isn’t something most of us have grown up with.  The good thing is, you know now and in the perfect stage of your life to speak up and advocate for yourself. Remember, what you require to feel whole isn’t out of line.

8. The lack of affection you’ve given your parents

“It’s crazy how fast time goes by.” We say it oh so often about our children, but barely recognize it applies to our parents until it’s too late. Then the guilty feelings flood in as you recognize the lack of affection and attention as you let life get away from you. It’s ok. It happens and parents normally understand. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If your parents are still around there’s still time to show them the love you know they want. And if they’re not, continue to honor them and share the lessons they’ve taught you with others.

9. The slice of pizza you shouldn’t have eaten

This too shall pass. Life can’t be all about depriving yourself. Sometimes, you need to indulge. You nourished your body and gave it some necessary substance to get you through the day. Food is so personal and diet culture has made billions shaming people for their choices. Don’t follow their lead and shame yourself in the process. 

10. The workouts you’ve skipped

So you missed those workouts before. Who said you can’t make up for it today? 

11. The things you don’t know

No one expects you to know everything. Just be open to learning daily. You didn’t know then, but you know now and that matters too. 

12. The times you screwed up at work

Most bosses don’t expect employees to be perfect at everything they do. And if you took a poll, you’ll find that everyone makes mistakes at work. Just don’t allow those mistakes to change your work ethic. Recognizing the screw up makes it that much easier for you to rectify it. 

13. That time you were selfish

Selfish isn’t a bad word and we need to stop treating it as such. Whether it was something as important as your career or as simple as taking a nap instead of assisting a friend, we all need to put ourselves first at some point. No need to feel guilty or ashamed. Sometimes you need to be selfish so you can be even more selfless for others. Most importantly, you deserve to serve yourself and honor your needs regardless of who you are to other people.

14. The times you settled for less

It’s not always easy to see all you are worth and deserve. Just remember the only one who can determine your value is you.

15. The time you gave bad advice unintentionally

We don’t have all the answers and we can’t predict the future. As long as your heart was in the right place there’s no need to feel guilty. It’s never a bad thing when you attempt to guide someone who feels lost.

16. Not standing up for that injustice

Just like you’re not perfect, the world isn’t perfect. And that means there are a lot of injustices that need to be fixed. You’re only one person and you can’t fix all of them. It’s ok if you didn’t have the strength, courage, or drive to speak out against them all. Nobody expects you to save the world. Find the cause that speaks to your heart and go after it.

17. For giving your child the iPad a tad too many times

We all know what they say about tablets and screen time. But you did what you needed to at the time and your sanity is sacred. Giving your child a tablet isn’t lazy parenting, it’s survival. 

18. That time you weren’t there when you were needed

The time your friend needed a ride home from work. The time you couldn’t be in the wedding. The time you missed the important phone call. You can’t be there all the time, but you are there when it matters most. Plus, you can vow to be there when needed going forward. There are other ways to show that you are dependable and care. 

19. For taking too long to forgive others and holding that grudge

There’s no rule on how long you are allowed to feel hurt.  You did what felt right at the time. What’s important is you finally came around. 

20. The time you did things you shouldn’t have to fit in

The morals you ditched. The things you said. The outfits you wore to fit in. There are way too many outside influences from traumas, media trends, and family pressures, that talk you out of who you are. You aren’t the only one who lost their way to follow others.  As long as you found yourself again, be proud of yourself. And if you still haven’t found yourself, but in the process, acknowledge that you are on track to getting back to you again. 

21. The day you took your anger out on someone else

We are emotional beings. Sometimes those emotions are good and sometimes not so much. Unfortunately, lashing out is part of the territory. Recognize where you went wrong and make an effort to manage emotions a bit better in the future. 

22. That time you took a break

Walking away from work. Walking away from school. Or walking away from that important project. Whatever it is, remember that everything has its season. You are allowed to regroup and recharge. It will probably help you get back to what you started even stronger. Besides what’s on your heart and mind usually doesn’t expire. 

23. Judging someone you shouldn’t have

Looks can be deceiving and people can be hard to read. From introverts, extroverts, neurotypicals, neurodivergents, leaders, and storytellers, it’s hard to tell who is who anymore. These very different characteristics can be misunderstood. We all do it sometimes.

24. For spending more money than you should

We live in a society that’s constantly telling us we don’t have enough. From commercials, social media, and junk mail, there is always someone talking us out of our money. It’s not easy resisting temptation. It happens to all of us. Put what you purchased to good use and take a lesson to better assess your necessities with budgets.

25. Seeking acceptance and approval from the wrong people

We all want to be accepted by others. But if you haven’t accepted who you are, the approval from others won’t matter. Everything you are and will become is enough and all you need.

26. For the times you couldn’t give to those in need

It’s easy to look at all the people around you doing good in the world and feel guilty because you don’t measure up. Maybe you couldn’t give your friend a place to crash at the time, or maybe you didn’t have sparechange to give to the unhoused man on the street. We can’t be everyone’s knight in shining armor. Instead, focus on the good you have done and the good you are capable of doing.

27. The days you refused to take care of yourself when you should have

Society glorifies the busy, overworked, and those who are everything to everyone else. It’s no wonder we don’t know how to be balanced. It’s a work in progress for everyone. You’re in good company.

28. The chances you didn’t take

We like to believe that if we did things differently our lives would be better. Maybe it was a trip you skipped or a career move you passed up on. Whatever it is, you can’t live in alternate realities. This is your reality. You are here and you are doing just fine.

29. The times you second-guessed yourself

They say you should never ignore your gut yet you’ve done it a time or two. And that’s ok. As clear as your intuition may be, it’s not always easy to listen to when there are so many outside factors working against it. Luckily, your initiation doesn’t lose potency due to lack of use. Trust me. You’ll have more chances to listen to your gut in the future.

30. Not acknowledging the growth you’ve made

If you think you haven’t accomplished anything, it might be because you aren’t paying attention. Every day is another opportunity to grow and become who you truly are. 

31. Not teaching your kids about money… or something else that matters

As I deal with the constant battle of paying off student loan debt, I know my parents would constantly be hard on themselves for not teaching me better. However, I don’t blame them and no parent should be blaming themselves either. Why? Because you teach your kids all that you know. What you did know and passed down holds value too. Maybe you should have known more, but that’s ok. What’s important is that we know better now and we can move forward with what we do know. The beautiful thing is that you can now learn together. 

32. The course or coaching you shouldn’t have purchased

Financial coaches, life coaching,  Masterclass, and Coursera offerings. The options are endless and the desire for more knowledge is hard to resist. And you can’t deny that those sales tactics are rather convincing. You aren’t the only one to overdo it on coaching and courses. Whether or not you finished it or applied everything, be happy with the takeaway from those lessons. If there was no clear takeaway, use it as an opportunity to better understand your spending motives, executive functioning, and future plans. 

TERRific Quip: Imperfection is a form of freedom.

Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Did any of these resonate with you?

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14 Comments

  1. This list is so spot on! It helped me do some self-reflection, as a result, I realized I need to forgive myself for a few more things.

  2. What an awesome post full of some really great reminders. I think sometimes we fall into the habit of listing who we need to forgive but never give that healing to ourselves.

  3. There are very few things that I struggle to forgive myself for. Finding my passion this late in life is the biggest. Not that I beat myself up about it per say. I just wish I had time to really go after it. I did not discover my passion until after I had 2 kids and I was in a relationship.

  4. I’ve long since forgiven myself for the workouts I haven’t done. This is my favorite one on your list. LOL.

  5. I forgive other people easily but I am super hard on myself. 16 and 19 are struggles for me! I’m slowly learning to be more gracious with myself. This is a great list!

  6. I have forgiven myself for #3 – Student loans and have made it one of my life’s goals to not have to pay it all back…ever.

  7. In life, we have to let go off things or else we gonna continue to hate each other. I have forgiven myself for a lot of things so far.

  8. This list is so accurate – I am guilty of 90% of them, but you’re absolutely right in the fact that I need to learn to let most of them go! Thank you for the reminder for a bit of healthy self-reflection today! Charlie xo

  9. Thanks for this post. It is very inspiring to think about how we can accept and feel okay when we do things that we thought maybe were the wrong choice. But nothing you do is really wrong. I always try to look at my decisions like, how does this decision serve me and why is it actually a good thing. I’ve done each and and every one of the things you listed.

  10. I just love this list, as I didn’t know that other people struggle with similar problems. I always tend to think I’m the strange one and no one is in the same situation like me. I think it’s really important to forgive yourself to make a new start in life. 🙂

  11. Such a powerful blog post! This year one of my goal is mental health / self love and one of the things I’ve learn is for me to let go or accept things the way it is. Your blog post truly confirms that learning.

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