How often do you look back at your life and feel like you’ve done it all wrong? That you’ve chosen the wrong partners, took the wrong career path, or walked away from something at the wrong time?
It’s okay to look back at our lives to see where we might have made other choices, so long as we use that information to move forward with our lives rather than beating ourselves up for making the “mistakes” we believe we’ve made. The difference between learning and blaming is forgiveness.
A critical part of loving yourself is forgiving yourself for the things we perceive as mistakes from our past. You have to remember that when you look back at your past, you’re doing so with new eyes that have (hopefully) evolved from the person we were in that past moment.
It’s important to forgive yourself because we all do the best we can with what we have in the moment. If you feel you handled a situation badly in the past, consider what information you have now that you didn’t have when you were dealing with the situation in the moment. Is that information vital to how you feel you “should” have handled the situation? If so, forgive yourself for doing what you thought was right in the moment with the information you had.
It’s also important to forgive yourself for all the “shoulds” that pop up in our lives. We “should” have done this. We “should” have done that. Should is your present self judging your past self unfairly. We can only do what seems right in the moment and Monday morning quarterbacking the situation only brings us pain after the fact.
Instead of judging your past self, celebrate the present self. You’ve grown and changed since the situation you’re judging yourself for. You know you’d handle the situation differently now, so celebrate that. Forgive your past self and acknowledge that she did the best she could. Then celebrate your present self for having recognized past issues and made changes to how she behaves now.