Saying “I’m Sorry” – the Art of Forgiving Yourself and Others

Forgiveness is an intentional decision to release feelings of resentment or anger toward someone who you believe to have done you wrong. Choosing to forgive others (and yourself) can be challenging, but learning how can benefit your mental wellness.

“In stressful times, you may have said or done things you feel bad about,” said Amber Olson, LCSW, with Memorial Behavioral Health (MBH). “Self-forgiveness is not about avoiding accountability for your behaviors. Instead, it’s a willingness to accept your mistakes and move past them.”

The four R’s of forgiveness can help you move forward: responsibility, remorse, restoration and renewal.

  1. Take responsibility for your actions. If you have made a mistake or someone has wronged you, it is important to accept responsibility or acknowledge that someone else needs to or has accepted responsibility. And recognize that sometimes things happen that you’re not responsible for—it’s not fair to blame yourself.
  2. Share and show remorse for actions. Once a mistake or wrong is acknowledged, it can result in feelings of guilt or remorse. Showing and sharing your feelings of remorse are a part of the healing process.
  3. Make an effort for restoration. Whether it is apologizing to yourself, someone else or accepting the apology of another, resolve to restore your relationship and make things right. In instances in which you have no contact with that individual, you can make a commitment to avoid dwelling on the wrong over and again.
  4. Renew yourself or your relationship with the other person. Once you resolve to not focus on past mistakes and move forward, use your experience as an opportunity to learn for the future.

“Understanding you have made mistakes and how you can respond differently the next time helps you to grow,” Olson said. “Self-forgiveness and forgiving others with or without an apology can help you to experience better overall mental health and wellness.”

Need to talk? 

As behavioral health services across the state close temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Memorial Behavioral Health provides telehealth and phone appointments with their patients. In addition, MBH has established an emotional support hotline, available at 217-588-5509, to provide support to individuals who are experiencing anxiety or stress, even if they are not MBH patients.

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