Forgiving yourself, or the 'ongoing art of self forgiveness' has many, many benefits, IF you're corageous enough to do the work. Among them...untless articles about how forgiving others can help you feel better. Of course you have. But what about forgiving yourself?

7 Ways Forgiving Yourself Will Immensely Improve Your Life

7 Ways Forgiving Yourself Will Immensely Improve Your Life

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The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself. ~ Terence McKenna Click To Tweet

You’ve probably read countless articles about how forgiving others can help you feel better. Of course you have — there are a ton of them out there. But forgiving yourself? Self forgiveness? This is an oft-avoided topic because, simply put, people prefer not to acknowledge their negative side. 

Most people have no problem pointing out the flaws or mistakes of others but are less willing to look at their own. Self forgiveness doesn’t interest them, because it requires them to not only acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes, but requires them to look at them as well — closely. This can be very hard.

Others, erroneously, tend to believe that doing so — that acknowledging the “shadow self” (more on that later) — equates to criticizing or punishing ourselves, or that it may even be a form of narcissism. We ‘know what we’ve done’, we think, ‘so what’s the point in continuing to roll around in it? Better to just get on with things. You’re not the center of the universe.’

While this makes sense on certain level, and may work to a degree in the long run, if we haven’t integrated those past actions then it’s still a form of avoidance. We may know quite well what we’ve done, but unless our outlook, our perspective, our automatic thinking has changed, they will continue to lurk, draining our vitality and limiting our potential in specific ways we may not even notice — and of course, affecting others simply through our state of being in the world.

While we may never be triggered into making the same mistakes in action again, the psychological detritus that remains from not fully integrating whatever ‘lessons’ are there for us to learn is a pointless burden to carry. Contrary to our belief that we are not the center of the universe, each of us indeed are, and until we get that, not only will we remain the source of our own problems, but those of the ‘wider world’ we believe have nothing to do with us.

There’s no getting away from it. Working on yourself is working on the world, and forgiving yourself — or, rather, learning the on-going art of self forgiveness — is one of the most potent, immediate and long-lasting catalysts for healing the world at large.

Otherwise, as mentioned, we run the risk of weighing ourselves down with the resultant condemnation, of both ourselves and others, that comes from not doing that work. And don’t fall into the trap of ‘othering’ here, either — putting others on some pedestal of purity (or yourself, if you believe you’re ‘above’ them in some way) — everyone has a long list of items to look at here, that are just as personal to them as yours are to you.

And while we have so far been repeatedly referring to this process as ‘work’ — which it indeed is — what we haven’t mentioned yet is the pay-off you’ll get from forgiving yourself, and the immense ways your life will improve as a result. Here are seven of them.

1) Far More Effective Vision & Action, Due To Understanding ‘The Dark Side’

The “shadow self” or “shadow side” is a term used to describe the negative aspects of the human personality.

It represents those many parts of our psyche we naturally hide from view, from both others and ourselves, to many varying degrees. Understanding it is key to keeping your head above water in life.

To put it simply (you can read the many in-depth articles we have on it in our archives in order to dive deeper at a later time), if too thoroughly suppressed or overindulged, it can make life miserable. As with everything, balance is key.

We’re not immune to negativity or selfishness, and neither is the rest of the world. Indeed, without these things, how could we learn to truly embody their opposites?

The most “enlightened” people out there wrestle with the temptation to feed this low state of mind, because like the rest of us, they still have things to remember.

Once you begin the process of accepting, addressing and integrating the shadow self, the corollary awareness of it everywhere — it has an ever-present influence in the world, to varying degrees, in all situations — will begin to grow as well. This is akin to donning night-vision goggles after realizing you’ve been stumbling around in the dark for most of your life. It is an extremely powerful manner of perception that self forgiveness indeed plays a role in.

2) You’ll Wake Up To The Lie of ‘Perfection’

Self forgiveness helps you remember you’re a human prone to error, and so is everyone else. And no matter how ‘far along’ we think we are, this remains a constant.

For the fledgling spiritual seeker this is a hard, but absolutely necessary first step in shedding false humility for the real deal.

The thing is, we didn’t initially set out on this path to gain a sense of worldliness, but divinity. We want to taste the nectar, touch the heights of meditative bliss, discover higher states of consciousness and consider ourselves nothing less than the ‘enlightened beings’ we know we came into this world with the potential to be.

Thus, the suggestion that we’re ‘still human’ and likely to make mistakes is often apt to draw criticism from the uninitiated for its seeming lack of spiritual awareness. “We’re not just humans”, they’ll say, “we’re so much more! We are spiritual beings, incapable of error in the eyes of our creator”.

Indeed we are, but the secret therein is that this ‘level’, this ‘lower state of consciousness’ we’ve embodied here in 3-dimensional reality is the cutting edge — it’s the Coliseum incarnate, in which we’re supposed to make mistakes, because of the invaluable lessons unavailable to us anywhere else.

The point was never that no mistakes be made, but that we learn the art of defining ourselves through our reaction to them. In this way, we learn to understand experientially how the so-called ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ states of consciousness are actually one.

While this knowledge shouldn’t be used to make wanton mistakes, obviously, (and once one truly ‘gets’ this, such a thing would be impossible anyway), it greatly accelerates the growth of empathy, compassion and wisdom, because the illusion of ‘perfection’ begins to dissolve — or, rather, the understanding that imperfection is perfection comes ever more clear. This is one of the most wonderful corollaries self forgiveness provides.

3) You’ll Feel better, and Have Far More Creative Energy

Has someone ever wronged you in such a way that forgiveness seemed impossible? While it may indeed seem justifiable, it remains no less righteous, and, as mentioned in the opening of this article, through your unwillingness to learn how to let it go, you inadvertently volunteer to carry a heavy emotional weight. You’ll feel an undeniable sense of relief if you can learn, in one way or another, to let it go.

The same will happen if you forgive yourself.

While it may be the nature of the subconscious to stuff thoughts, feelings and memories deep down, it’s also in our nature to process them when need be (when we ‘hit roadblocks’, keep making the same mistakes, etc.).

As crude as the analogy may be, if we stubbornly refuse to do the latter, it’s akin to willingly causing constipation after eating a massive meal. Continually repressed and/or suppressed thoughts, feelings, emotions, automatic reactions, so on and so forth, may not appear to outwardly effect you, but deep down, dis-ease, in one form or another, is brewing.

While the effects of this are as varied as are people and situations, as an example, you might find yourself suddenly the ‘victim’ of an uncontrollable outburst that’s completely out of proportion to the situation that triggered it.

Yet these volcanic outbursts are inevitable for anyone who continually represses/suppresses their feelings. Because they weren’t being mindful enough of their mental/emotional states along the way — often due to the failure of learning effective methods for balancing the rules of social etiquette with their intuitive and instinctual needs, desires and feelings — the ‘steam valve’ goes off whenever it hits capacity, regardless of the ‘situational appropriateness’ of the reaction. It’s the inner self simply saying ‘enough!’, because it knows, instinctually, that this toxic load needs release to keep it from manifesting in other, possibly worse, conditions.

What the ‘ongoing art of self forgiveness’ does, when practiced consistently, is not only ease such aberrant manifestations before ever taking place, it integrates them in healthy ways, retaining the energy therein for its channeling into ‘proper’ forms of creative flow, at appropriate times, instead of seeing it forcefully held onto and transmuted to destructive ends.

4) Expanding Appreciation, Gratitude and ‘Situational Self-Knowledge’

Looking back on point number 3, remember that we are continually in the act of learning to dissolve the culturally projected spectre of perfection through recognizing its true state in the imperfection we find in ourselves, others and the world all the time.

As you continue to open to this, learning to exercise and integrate it into an eventual truism, you’ll find yourself beginning to naturally appreciate the unique ways in which it helps you navigate the so-called ‘problems’ that have traditionally prevented you from moving forward.

You’ll also begin to learn the identity of the force in control of your life.

What do I mean by this? Well, it comes down to flow and resistance. It’s in our nature to want to ‘flow’ as naturally as possible with who we are, navigating the waters of life with ease and enjoyment. Yet there will inevitably be rapids, and in certain cases, water-ways that are simply too treacherous to go down at all.

Coming to recognize these ‘rougher spots’ is akin to becoming more ‘dimensionally aware’ of the landscapes we find ourselves in and how we relate to them — in other words, not just knowing ourselves, but the lay of the land and how who we are relates to it; it’s becoming ‘wise to the ways of the world’ and our place as a unique individual in it.

As we do so, our self knowledge expands to include many myriad, shifting, ever-revealing aspects of itself in the ‘game’ of situational reaction/creation, and we begin to understand that the ‘unknown forces’ we’ve been dealing with all this time are indeed inseparable from ourselves, and vice versa.

These positive and negative qualities come together to form you: a human and spiritual being with a lot to learn from both your higher and lower self. In transcending such knowledge, it’s impossible not reach far more expansive states of gratitude and appreciation.

5) Forgiving Others Becomes Far More Natural

Again returning to the Jungian concept of the shadow, this point hinges on its existence not only in individual consciousness, but its deeper connection to the whole of humanity through the well of the collective consciousness. In learning to forgive yourself, you simultaneously learn to forgive others as well.

Because you understand that everyone occasionally embodies the villain archetype, no exceptions, you become far more wise when encountering it in others. When confronted by a rude or nasty person, you are far less apt to react in the old, automatic, defensive manner that is so common, but again — because you’ve largely relieved yourself of the habit of psychological projection involved here — are able to see quickly through it to the motivating forces beneath.

While you may not be able to specifically pinpoint those forces, you’ll know they’re there, and have a much better ‘feel’ for them.

As an example, if a newcomer at your job makes a mistake you have to deal with, instead of getting automatically resentful and ornery about it, you find yourself being reminded of what it was like when you were learning the ropes, and just how (and possibly why) such mistakes get made.

Forgiveness will come far more naturally, simply because you’ll have pre-emptively forgiven the aspects of your own ‘false-ego’ personality that result in ineptitude, excuse-making, ‘ignorance’, etc.

6) You’ll Free Yourself From Undesirable Behavior

While this point is of course quite self-evident, and was already covered somewhat in the opening passages of this article, it’s worth re-iterating.

Imagine yourself unrestrained by behavior that used to keep you down. What could you achieve in this limitless space outside your comfort zone? The possibilities would be as endless as the inspiration you’d feel, and your achievements would reflect your inspiration and the lack of inner-demons holding you back.

While learning to forgive yourself indeed helps you gain more ground in getting to such a space, making you feel happier, lighter and more understanding of the world, it does so because a part of the process itself is the inner knowledge you now possess of how much less likely you are to continue said behavior.

Self forgiveness frees you from the endless, heretofore ‘veiled’ call to deviate down pathways that would ultimately be destructive to what it is you want for yourself and your future, replacing them instead with far more congruent choices.

7) More Hope For The World & Humanity

Expanding on point 6, since forgiving others becomes more natural as we learn to forgive ourselves, the tendency to see the world as such a bad or hopeless place also begins to lift.

Sure, you’ll remain aware of the rampant negativity in the world, but you’ll neither deny it with a Pollyanna outlook nor let it drag you down into a permanent state of cynicism.

Instead, a balanced perspective on the good and the bad will begin to develop, enabling far more compassion for the ‘bad’, appreciation of the ‘good’ and a growing empathy for the world as a whole, along with a deep understanding that it seems far worse than it is, and that the collective belief in it being this bad is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, a type of mass-hypnosis that humanity is continually succumbing to.

This is how freeing self forgiveness can be. It can lead to the understanding that, apart from a few truly anomalous examples (violent psychopathy, despotism, etc) the great majority of humans are good people, simply in varying degrees of an evolving collective consciousness. And with your personal slate that much cleaner, a growing ability to enjoy the beauty, fun and adventure of the world starts to arise, becoming far less prone to being continually dragged down into unnecessary contemplation of all the awful things people are capable of.

The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself. ~ Terence McKenna Click To Tweet

You’ve probably read countless articles about how forgiving others can help you feel better. Of course you have — there are a ton of them out there. But forgiving yourself? Self forgiveness? This is an oft-avoided topic because, simply put, people prefer not to acknowledge their negative side. 

Most people have no problem pointing out the flaws or mistakes of others but are less willing to look at their own. Self forgiveness doesn’t interest them, because it requires them to not only acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes, but requires them to look at them as well — closely. This can be very hard.

Others, erroneously, tend to believe that doing so — that acknowledging the “shadow self” (more on that later) — equates to criticizing or punishing ourselves, or that it may even be a form of narcissism. We ‘know what we’ve done’, we think, ‘so what’s the point in continuing to roll around in it? Better to just get on with things. You’re not the center of the universe.’

While this makes sense on certain level, and may work to a degree in the long run, if we haven’t integrated those past actions then it’s still a form of avoidance. We may know quite well what we’ve done, but unless our outlook, our perspective, our automatic thinking has changed, they will continue to lurk, draining our vitality and limiting our potential in specific ways we may not even notice — and of course, affecting others simply through our state of being in the world.

While we may never be triggered into making the same mistakes in action again, the psychological detritus that remains from not fully integrating whatever ‘lessons’ are there for us to learn is a pointless burden to carry. Contrary to our belief that we are not the center of the universe, each of us indeed are, and until we get that, not only will we remain the source of our own problems, but those of the ‘wider world’ we believe have nothing to do with us.

There’s no getting away from it. Working on yourself is working on the world, and forgiving yourself — or, rather, learning the on-going art of self forgiveness — is one of the most potent, immediate and long-lasting catalysts for healing the world at large.

Otherwise, as mentioned, we run the risk of weighing ourselves down with the resultant condemnation, of both ourselves and others, that comes from not doing that work. And don’t fall into the trap of ‘othering’ here, either — putting others on some pedestal of purity (or yourself, if you believe you’re ‘above’ them in some way) — everyone has a long list of items to look at here, that are just as personal to them as yours are to you.

And while we have so far been repeatedly referring to this process as ‘work’ — which it indeed is — what we haven’t mentioned yet is the pay-off you’ll get from forgiving yourself, and the immense ways your life will improve as a result. Here are seven of them.

1) Far More Effective Vision & Action, Due To Understanding ‘The Dark Side’

The “shadow self” or “shadow side” is a term used to describe the negative aspects of the human personality.

It represents those many parts of our psyche we naturally hide from view, from both others and ourselves, to many varying degrees. Understanding it is key to keeping your head above water in life.

To put it simply (you can read the many in-depth articles we have on it in our archives in order to dive deeper at a later time), if too thoroughly suppressed or overindulged, it can make life miserable. As with everything, balance is key.

We’re not immune to negativity or selfishness, and neither is the rest of the world. Indeed, without these things, how could we learn to truly embody their opposites?

The most “enlightened” people out there wrestle with the temptation to feed this low state of mind, because like the rest of us, they still have things to remember.

Once you begin the process of accepting, addressing and integrating the shadow self, the corollary awareness of it everywhere — it has an ever-present influence in the world, to varying degrees, in all situations — will begin to grow as well. This is akin to donning night-vision goggles after realizing you’ve been stumbling around in the dark for most of your life. It is an extremely powerful manner of perception that self forgiveness indeed plays a role in.

2) You’ll Wake Up To The Lie of ‘Perfection’

Self forgiveness helps you remember you’re a human prone to error, and so is everyone else. And no matter how ‘far along’ we think we are, this remains a constant.

For the fledgling spiritual seeker this is a hard, but absolutely necessary first step in shedding false humility for the real deal.

The thing is, we didn’t initially set out on this path to gain a sense of worldliness, but divinity. We want to taste the nectar, touch the heights of meditative bliss, discover higher states of consciousness and consider ourselves nothing less than the ‘enlightened beings’ we know we came into this world with the potential to be.

Thus, the suggestion that we’re ‘still human’ and likely to make mistakes is often apt to draw criticism from the uninitiated for its seeming lack of spiritual awareness. “We’re not just humans”, they’ll say, “we’re so much more! We are spiritual beings, incapable of error in the eyes of our creator”.

Indeed we are, but the secret therein is that this ‘level’, this ‘lower state of consciousness’ we’ve embodied here in 3-dimensional reality is the cutting edge — it’s the Coliseum incarnate, in which we’re supposed to make mistakes, because of the invaluable lessons unavailable to us anywhere else.

The point was never that no mistakes be made, but that we learn the art of defining ourselves through our reaction to them. In this way, we learn to understand experientially how the so-called ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ states of consciousness are actually one.

While this knowledge shouldn’t be used to make wanton mistakes, obviously, (and once one truly ‘gets’ this, such a thing would be impossible anyway), it greatly accelerates the growth of empathy, compassion and wisdom, because the illusion of ‘perfection’ begins to dissolve — or, rather, the understanding that imperfection is perfection comes ever more clear. This is one of the most wonderful corollaries self forgiveness provides.

3) You’ll Feel better, and Have Far More Creative Energy

Has someone ever wronged you in such a way that forgiveness seemed impossible? While it may indeed seem justifiable, it remains no less righteous, and, as mentioned in the opening of this article, through your unwillingness to learn how to let it go, you inadvertently volunteer to carry a heavy emotional weight. You’ll feel an undeniable sense of relief if you can learn, in one way or another, to let it go.

The same will happen if you forgive yourself.

While it may be the nature of the subconscious to stuff thoughts, feelings and memories deep down, it’s also in our nature to process them when need be (when we ‘hit roadblocks’, keep making the same mistakes, etc.).

As crude as the analogy may be, if we stubbornly refuse to do the latter, it’s akin to willingly causing constipation after eating a massive meal. Continually repressed and/or suppressed thoughts, feelings, emotions, automatic reactions, so on and so forth, may not appear to outwardly effect you, but deep down, dis-ease, in one form or another, is brewing.

While the effects of this are as varied as are people and situations, as an example, you might find yourself suddenly the ‘victim’ of an uncontrollable outburst that’s completely out of proportion to the situation that triggered it.

Yet these volcanic outbursts are inevitable for anyone who continually represses/suppresses their feelings. Because they weren’t being mindful enough of their mental/emotional states along the way — often due to the failure of learning effective methods for balancing the rules of social etiquette with their intuitive and instinctual needs, desires and feelings — the ‘steam valve’ goes off whenever it hits capacity, regardless of the ‘situational appropriateness’ of the reaction. It’s the inner self simply saying ‘enough!’, because it knows, instinctually, that this toxic load needs release to keep it from manifesting in other, possibly worse, conditions.

What the ‘ongoing art of self forgiveness’ does, when practiced consistently, is not only ease such aberrant manifestations before ever taking place, it integrates them in healthy ways, retaining the energy therein for its channeling into ‘proper’ forms of creative flow, at appropriate times, instead of seeing it forcefully held onto and transmuted to destructive ends.

4) Expanding Appreciation, Gratitude and ‘Situational Self-Knowledge’

Looking back on point number 3, remember that we are continually in the act of learning to dissolve the culturally projected spectre of perfection through recognizing its true state in the imperfection we find in ourselves, others and the world all the time.

As you continue to open to this, learning to exercise and integrate it into an eventual truism, you’ll find yourself beginning to naturally appreciate the unique ways in which it helps you navigate the so-called ‘problems’ that have traditionally prevented you from moving forward.

You’ll also begin to learn the identity of the force in control of your life.

What do I mean by this? Well, it comes down to flow and resistance. It’s in our nature to want to ‘flow’ as naturally as possible with who we are, navigating the waters of life with ease and enjoyment. Yet there will inevitably be rapids, and in certain cases, water-ways that are simply too treacherous to go down at all.

Coming to recognize these ‘rougher spots’ is akin to becoming more ‘dimensionally aware’ of the landscapes we find ourselves in and how we relate to them — in other words, not just knowing ourselves, but the lay of the land and how who we are relates to it; it’s becoming ‘wise to the ways of the world’ and our place as a unique individual in it.

As we do so, our self knowledge expands to include many myriad, shifting, ever-revealing aspects of itself in the ‘game’ of situational reaction/creation, and we begin to understand that the ‘unknown forces’ we’ve been dealing with all this time are indeed inseparable from ourselves, and vice versa.

These positive and negative qualities come together to form you: a human and spiritual being with a lot to learn from both your higher and lower self. In transcending such knowledge, it’s impossible not reach far more expansive states of gratitude and appreciation.

5) Forgiving Others Becomes Far More Natural

Again returning to the Jungian concept of the shadow, this point hinges on its existence not only in individual consciousness, but its deeper connection to the whole of humanity through the well of the collective consciousness. In learning to forgive yourself, you simultaneously learn to forgive others as well.

Because you understand that everyone occasionally embodies the villain archetype, no exceptions, you become far more wise when encountering it in others. When confronted by a rude or nasty person, you are far less apt to react in the old, automatic, defensive manner that is so common, but again — because you’ve largely relieved yourself of the habit of psychological projection involved here — are able to see quickly through it to the motivating forces beneath.

While you may not be able to specifically pinpoint those forces, you’ll know they’re there, and have a much better ‘feel’ for them.

As an example, if a newcomer at your job makes a mistake you have to deal with, instead of getting automatically resentful and ornery about it, you find yourself being reminded of what it was like when you were learning the ropes, and just how (and possibly why) such mistakes get made.

Forgiveness will come far more naturally, simply because you’ll have pre-emptively forgiven the aspects of your own ‘false-ego’ personality that result in ineptitude, excuse-making, ‘ignorance’, etc.

6) You’ll Free Yourself From Undesirable Behavior

While this point is of course quite self-evident, and was already covered somewhat in the opening passages of this article, it’s worth re-iterating.

Imagine yourself unrestrained by behavior that used to keep you down. What could you achieve in this limitless space outside your comfort zone? The possibilities would be as endless as the inspiration you’d feel, and your achievements would reflect your inspiration and the lack of inner-demons holding you back.

While learning to forgive yourself indeed helps you gain more ground in getting to such a space, making you feel happier, lighter and more understanding of the world, it does so because a part of the process itself is the inner knowledge you now possess of how much less likely you are to continue said behavior.

Self forgiveness frees you from the endless, heretofore ‘veiled’ call to deviate down pathways that would ultimately be destructive to what it is you want for yourself and your future, replacing them instead with far more congruent choices.

7) More Hope For The World & Humanity

Expanding on point 6, since forgiving others becomes more natural as we learn to forgive ourselves, the tendency to see the world as such a bad or hopeless place also begins to lift.

Sure, you’ll remain aware of the rampant negativity in the world, but you’ll neither deny it with a Pollyanna outlook nor let it drag you down into a permanent state of cynicism.

Instead, a balanced perspective on the good and the bad will begin to develop, enabling far more compassion for the ‘bad’, appreciation of the ‘good’ and a growing empathy for the world as a whole, along with a deep understanding that it seems far worse than it is, and that the collective belief in it being this bad is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, a type of mass-hypnosis that humanity is continually succumbing to.

This is how freeing self forgiveness can be. It can lead to the understanding that, apart from a few truly anomalous examples (violent psychopathy, despotism, etc) the great majority of humans are good people, simply in varying degrees of an evolving collective consciousness. And with your personal slate that much cleaner, a growing ability to enjoy the beauty, fun and adventure of the world starts to arise, becoming far less prone to being continually dragged down into unnecessary contemplation of all the awful things people are capable of.

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Don’t worry — we won’t overload your inbox! At this point we only publish once a week, and you are free to unsubscribe at anytime. All of our user’s data is 100% safe-guarded, and you’ll only, ever, hear from us.