Have you ever made a mistake and played it over and over in your mind? Does it still make you cringe even now? If not, how long was it before you stopped thinking it over?

Last year I blogged about the art of apologising, and also of accepting apologies. Today I would like to talk about self-forgiveness.

Learning to forgive yourself is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Because whatever mistake you made you can’t un-make it. It is done. And not forgiving yourself will stop you from moving on, which in turn will limit your potential.

I took my girls to a travelling circus a few weeks ago. A small one – from what I could see there were 5 performers, plus one person who was rushing around in the background. The performers were also the ticket office, the sweet shop, the sound technicians… you see what I mean. Anyway, one of the guys performing was having A Bad Day. You know the days I mean, where everything you touch turns to shit. Seriously, every single act he did, something went wrong. And you could see from the frustration on his face that he couldn’t work out what was going on. But at the end of each act he smiled, bowed, then came back for his next act with a smile and determination.

And yes, that could just be put down to grit, determination and the fact the show must go on at all costs. But it also occurred to me that performers have to be able to forgive themselves for mistakes they make, otherwise how else would they come out on stage again and again?

So, back to you. What can you do when you make a mistake?

  1. Make mistake
  2. Apologise (to yourself or to whoever is affected)
  3. Write out the lessons you can learn from the mistake
  4. Forgive yourself, even if others don’t
  5. Move on

Note that in point 4 I ask you to forgive yourself even if others don’t. The thing is, people forgive when they are ready, or not at all in some cases, and there is surprisingly little we can do about that. It has to come from them. So if you depend on forgiveness before forgiving yourself you may be stuck where you are for a long time.

Try it today. Have a look back at things you have done or mistakes that you have made that you are still, somehow, holding on to.

Write out your lessons, then, quite simply, say to yourself, out loud if you like “I forgive you” take a step forward from your mistake and give yourself permission to move on.

Trust me, by learning to forgive yourself you will be doing yourself a huge favour.

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