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How to Heal and Forgive Yourself From Past Hurts

by S. Grey

Forgiveness is never for others, it is only for you, especially when you struggle to forgive yourself. This process seems especially hard when you own the burden of past pain. Instead of harboring resentment against yourself, begin the process of healing and forgiveness to be able to move forward. Forgiving yourself allows you to let go of pain and realize that you have worth and may make mistakes. It may be a difficult journey, but you have much to gain in forgiving yourself and healing from past hurt.

Encounter Your Feelings

Coming into contact with your feelings of guilt facilitates healing and is a first step in forgiveness. Experiencing your feelings allows you to develop ways to deal with them instead of avoiding them, which intensifies the emotions and hinders your growth and healing. Meditation and journaling are two methods of encountering your feelings. Meditation allows you to discover your feelings and yourself without resisting either, in time producing a growing acceptance. Journaling is a method of expressing your difficult emotions, but also moving them from your mind to somewhere tangible. This method helps you better understand overwhelming feelings and their context. Both of these methods help you understand what to forgive yourself for, creating healing in the process.

Change the Story

By changing the story surrounding your past pain, you can create a novel way to heal and forgive yourself. This idea comes from narrative therapy, a form of therapy designed to help you alter problematic stories you tell yourself and create positive stories that promote empowerment. Instead of seeing yourself as plagued by pain and guilt, you can change your story to acknowledge your mistakes but see how they have changed you for the better. By changing the story, you tell yourself, you create the circumstances through which you can see yourself in a more positive light. Healing occurs because you are able to see yourself and your circumstances more clearly, leading to the ability to forgive yourself.

Exercise in Self-Forgiveness

Getting rid of a physical manifestation of your guilt paves the way for self-forgiveness and healing. First, write down something you would like to be forgiven. Read over what you wrote and allow yourself to grieve. Let loose your anger and any other negative feelings and remember that you are human, it is human to make mistakes, and what has happened to you does not define you. Last, burn or rip what you wrote down in order to release yourself from guilt. While you may still have work to do in forgiving yourself, physically destroying your guilt can give you the strength you need to move forward. If you seek forgiveness for other things, repeat the exercise with them.

Professional Therapy

If you find difficulty healing and forgiving yourself alone, seek professional help. Therapists are beneficial because they help you work through your difficult emotions. These professionals will help you uncover emotions and their sources, pointing you toward a path of healing. Therapy is a safe space in which you can explore your pain instead of denying or suppressing it. Once you explore the context surrounding your pain, you can better understand it and develop strategies to heal and forgive yourself.

About the Author

S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.

Photo Credits

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