How to Let Go of Past Mistakes & Forgive Yourself

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Guilt and shame that we sometimes carry around for years can wreak havoc on our mental health. But you can choose to forgive yourself. While learning how to let go of past mistakes can be a long and challenging process, there are ways to lessen the hold of the past and let go of guilt and shame.

Why Is It So Easy to Hold on to Past Mistakes?

Let’s get one thing straight: it is perfectly normal to remember past mistakes. Your brain keeps track of past experiences and challenges. However, there are times when we focus more on the bad things, mainly when we believe that we have done something that cannot be forgiven or when we have hurt someone we love. 

Your brain then becomes trapped in negativity, replaying those mistakes over and over again. However, the brain does not distinguish between life-threatening situations and everyday blunders, treating both equally important. This can make you feel like you have no control over your shame, guilt, anxiety, and depression.

But you have the power to break free from the grip of the past and shake off that guilt and shame.

How Do Guilt and Shame Affect Our Mental Health?

Guilt and shame are sneaky emotions that can linger for years and throw you off balance, affecting your self-esteem, relationships, and emotional well-being.

Guilt is your persistent inner voice that arises after you’ve done something you later regret, saying, “You screwed up. It’s your fault!” As such, guilt can be beneficial in small doses, encouraging you to accept responsibility and apologize.

On the other hand, shame is linked to our self-worth. Because you feel you are an essentially bad person, shame may cause you to want to hide and isolate yourself from others. As a result, shame can easily lead to a downward spiral in mental health.

These emotions weigh you down, making you feel unworthy and keeping you stuck in past mistakes. By acknowledging and addressing guilt and shame, you can break free from their chains and embark on a journey of self-acceptance and healing.

Stop the negative chatter for good. Discover the benefits of hiring a certified life coach and how it improves emotional wellness.

Why We Often Struggle to Forgive Ourselves?

Self-forgiveness has a powerful impact on our well-being, relationships, and personal growth. Still, many of us carry the burden of past mistakes and regrets, struggling to forgive ourselves.


Firstly, because the grip of guilt and shame is so firm, we allow these emotions to define us, not knowing how to release them and go on.

Also, we often struggle to forgive ourselves because we are perfectionists who set unreasonably high standards for ourselves. So, when we fall short, this results in endless self-blame, shame, and guilt. Furthermore, our fear of repeating mistakes may drive us to dread change and prevent us from forgiving ourselves.

Finally, unresolved childhood trauma may make it difficult to forgive yourself. Addressing your previous experiences with a trained coach or counselor will help you break free from the hold of your past and remove emotional barriers to self-forgiveness.

Self-Compassion is The First Step Towards Forgiveness

looking for forgiveness

Self-forgiveness begins with self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same understanding and compassion you would extend to a good friend going through the same challenges. This will help you realize that, like everyone else, you make mistakes but deserve love and forgiveness.

How To Let Go of Past Mistakes (4 Tips)

It is impossible to avoid making mistakes. You can, however, learn to let them go. Here are four tips for letting go of past mistakes.

1) Acknowledge & Accept Your Past

Allow yourself to think of your past without self-judgment or shame. Instead of berating yourself for making a mistake, focus on the lessons that may have been learned from your past and consider how to improve. Own your past and take full responsibility for your previous actions. Instead of trying to justify or beat yourself up over them, admit that you were wrong.

2) Learn from Your Mistakes

Acknowledge and accept that no one is perfect. Because we are humans, we are going to make mistakes. Instead of chastising yourself for previous mistakes and wrongdoings, view them as chances for learning and growth.

Learning from our mistakes begins with a critical step – accepting responsibility for our actions. It can be challenging and even painful to come face-to-face with our mistakes. But while it may be tempting to play the blame game and minimize your responsibility, you’re setting yourself up for a never-ending cycle of repeating your mistakes if you don’t hold yourself accountable.

There’s, however, a difference between owning up to your mistakes and blaming yourself. Taking responsibility for past actions doesn’t mean you must beat yourself up for making mistakes. Accepting responsibility means that you are willing to look at what you have done to hurt others instead of making excuses for what happened.

3) Practice Self-Forgiveness

Once again, the first step towards self-forgiveness is learning to treat yourself with self-compassion. As one of the essential aspects of self-care and emotional well-being, self-compassion is the road to increased resilience, self-forgiveness, and healing.

How often do you say things to yourself that you would never say to others?

We tend to be hard on ourselves, dipped in harsh self-talk and self-judgment, punishing ourselves for what we say or do. When we engage in self-compassion, we develop the ability to treat ourselves in a way filled with understanding and caring.

Would you like more happiness and joy in your life? Consider enrolling in my RiseUP online course to help you create a powerful shift that will open up a world of new opportunities to last a lifetime.

4) Talk It Through with Someone

If you struggle to let go of past mistakes and forgive yourself, consider talking to a professional. When guilt, shame, and anxiety overwhelm you, a skilled life coach or counselor can help you reconnect with your inner child, address past traumas, and acknowledge your mistakes. Your counselor can guide you through the healing process by helping you learn healthy ways of coping with mistakes.

Don’t Let Past Mistakes Hold You Back Any Longer

Self-forgiveness allows us to embrace our imperfections, treat ourselves with acceptance, and grow beyond our self-imposed limitations. You don’t have to let your past mistakes define you. Instead, I can help you acknowledge your mistakes and then release their grip on your life. If you want to grow and move forward with a sense of self-compassion, contact me to set up a free empowering conversation.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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I’m Kamini Wood

My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™