The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice.
How often have you encountered people trying to tell you to “just forgive yourself” or “just let it go”? Maybe quite often, correct?
And as important as it is to be forgiving toward oneself, it is significantly easier said than done. Irrespective of what kind of error or mistake you’ve made, forgiveness, especially to yourself, just doesn’t come easily, does it?
In a relationship, you try your best to keep things as good as they can be. However, you sometimes knowingly or unknowingly make mistakes, and forgiving yourself for running a relationship isn’t a simple task.
So, learning how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship is a skill that is essential to be well aware of.
The guilt associated with ruining a special relationship, whether it is a marriage or a romantic relationship, is unparalleled. So naturally, letting go of guilt and shame and truly forgiving yourself can be a difficult journey full of challenges.
The overwhelming anxiety about past actions coupled with the guilt can feel overwhelming. There’s also a lot of ambiguity about what forgiving oneself entails. How does it feel? So many questions may be bothering you right now. It’s alright.
Here, you will discover all about how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship, the steps to forgiving yourself, the several benefits of self-forgiveness, the importance of being kind to yourself, and much more. Take a deep breath. It’ll be alright!
Why is forgiving yourself important in relationship breakdowns?
Understanding self-forgiveness is crucial before learning how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship and relationship breakdown. Recognizing its significance motivates the forgiveness process.
So, why is self-forgiveness critical after a relationship ends? What value does it bring? Unforgiveness can lead to self-destructive behavior. Failure to forgive oneself for relationship mistakes affects various life aspects, including family, friends, job performance, and overall satisfaction and well-being.
So, how does this happen? Well, when you see that you’ve made a mistake, and in this context, you’ve messed up your marriage or romantic relationship, and you realize the fact that what you’ve done is wrong, a lot of negative emotions come to the surface.
The most significant ones include overwhelming shame and guilt. You may feel humiliated and despise yourself and even strongly dislike yourself. You experience many other negative emotions, such as regret, anxiety, sadness, despair, fear, etc.
Experiencing such strong emotions over a long period, more often than not, can lead to a host of mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, and so on.
Loathing yourself and experiencing such overwhelming emotions over a prolonged period can significantly impact your physical health. Heart disease can be an unfortunate consequence.
All of this significantly impacts your quality of life, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, and more. Thus, learning to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship after cheating or doing something heartbreaking is of paramount importance.
What steps can you take to initiate self-forgiveness and move forward?
Now that you have the unparalleled importance of learning how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship let’s focus on how you can get started on your journey to self-forgiveness. Let’s acknowledge how one can forgive oneself and where one should start.
For learning the various steps to forgiving yourself, the best place to start would be to focus on your mindset. Without the appropriate mindset, managing your way through how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship won’t be possible.
The best place to start learning how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship is to set balanced and realistic expectations. Expectations here refer to the ones you’ll set for yourself for your journey.
The expectations you choose to set for yourself should be such that they can be achieved within a realistic timeline and should be achievable by nature.
Setting unrealistically high expectations, even on a journey of dealing with regret and overcoming guilt and shame over your past mistakes in your romantic relationship, will be the opposite of being kind to yourself.
In this way, the journey of forgiving yourself for mistakes and truly moving on can be a reality. So, remember, when learning how to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship, start your journey by setting realistic expectations.
7 benefits of self-forgiveness
Another key motivator to help you stay on track in this wonderful and much-needed healing journey is looking at the fantastic benefits of self-forgiveness.
Remember the outcome of this healing journey to implement the steps to self-forgiveness consistently. Dr. Frederic Luskin from Stanford University mentions in his book that one of the key benefits of practicing self-forgiveness is improved well-being.
As per Dr. Luskin, here are the other notable benefits of self-forgiveness:
Self-forgiveness allows individuals to hurt less.
Potentially harmful emotions such as anger are also experienced at a lower intensity and frequency.
The tendency to experience depressive tendencies is also lower.
15 effective ways to forgive yourself for ruining a relationship
You’ve understood the benefits of learning and implementing how to forgive yourself for mistakes in a relationship. Now, let’s finally get into the effective ways through which you can forgive yourself and move on.
1. If there is anything (big or small) that can be rectified, do it
The chances are that since you’re reading this, you’ve probably hurt someone by making some mistakes in your relationship. This may also mean that you’ve already spent a lot of time thinking about how and what can be rectified.
If you do end up thinking of something that can actually be rectified (it is achievable), you may consider doing that. So, if you’re wondering, “Do I forgive myself for ruining my relationship?” remember, it can help you set off on your journey of self-forgiveness on a good note.
If you haven’t apologized already, consider apologizing to your beloved (irrespective of whether they’re your ex now), especially if you want to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating. And if you already have apologized sincerely and they still haven’t accepted your apology, remember something important.
Whether they forgive you or not is not within your control. And forgiveness from their end doesn’t need to affect your healing journey.
3. Give yourself time (lots of it)
Being incredibly patient with yourself is imperative to learn how to forgive yourself for ruining your marriage or relationship. When it comes to actually letting go, it’s not easy. It may feel like shame, guilt, or other negative emotions are anchoring you down.
So, it is a gradual process to come out of that where you accept those strong feelings but don’t hold on to them anymore.
4. Regulate your thoughts
Try to be aware of your thoughts related to your mistakes. If you are, it’s possible to regulate your thoughts. Don’t run away from it if you catch yourself getting into this spiral of negative self-talk. Instead, try to direct that stream of thought in a constructive direction.
5. Talk about it
Don’t bottle up feelings or thoughts, especially negative ones. It’ll just add up and grow in its intensity. It can take a significant toll on your well-being. Consider confiding in someone that you deeply trust about your feelings and thoughts.
Remember that whether you’re forgiving yourself for cheating or something else, it’s a conscious choice. You’re actively making that decision. So, when you forgive, you are making that decision or choice to let go so that your general well-being improves.
Whether it’s about forgiving yourself or someone else, accepting the fact that an undeniable aspect of being human is to be imperfect and make mistakes sometimes is imperative for self-forgiveness. Accepting your negative emotions and accepting your past is pivotal for moving on.
9. Process the difficult emotions
I feel guilty for ruining my relationship; I don’t know how to let go of my guilt. If you’re wondering how to let go of guilt or other strong negative emotions, remember that suppressing these feelings won’t help. The more you ignore and suppress emotions, the worse it gets.
Allowing yourself the time, energy, and patience to experience shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, etc., is the key to feeling less burdened or affected by these feelings.
10. It’s a learning experience
Your perspective is essential for self-forgiveness and thought regulation. If you choose to view this challenging experience as a learning opportunity, you’ll allow yourself to grow from it.
11. Consider journaling
Another great thought regulation strategy is to pen down your thoughts as you experience them. Do it as often as you need to. In this way, you’re getting your negative thoughts out of your being.
Psychotherapy is highly effective for learning how to forgive yourself for being toxic. A psychotherapist can assist you in a structured, professional, and unbiased manner on your journey of self-forgiveness.
Remember that you are human, and it’s natural to make mistakes. Practicing self-compassion means treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a good friend. When negative thoughts about your past actions arise, counter them with positive affirmations about your efforts to improve.
Watch this TED Talk where Eileen Timmins, an author and life coach, narrates her personal journey, emphasizing the importance of self-forgiveness as a fundamental aspect of living with self-love, health, and happiness, leading to a life filled with radiant fulfillment:
14. Set realistic goals for personal growth
Focus on setting achievable goals for yourself that contribute to personal growth. These goals can be related to improving your communication skills, learning to manage emotions better, or cultivating empathy. Achieving these goals can provide a sense of accomplishment and help you move forward.
15. Seek support from loved ones
Don’t underestimate the power of a support system. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can offer encouragement and perspective. Sharing your feelings with others who care about you can be incredibly healing. It can reinforce the notion that your mistakes do not define you.
Managing the complex journey of self-forgiveness after a relationship mishap can be challenging. This section answers some commonly asked questions and provides insights into understanding and practicing self-forgiveness, a crucial step in personal healing and growth.
Is it possible to forgive myself if I did something truly hurtful?
Yes, it’s possible to forgive yourself even after causing significant hurt. It involves acknowledging your actions, learning from them, and committing to personal growth. Self-forgiveness isn’t about excusing your behavior but understanding and growing from it.
Do I have to forget what happened to forgive myself?
Forgetting isn’t a requirement for self-forgiveness. Remembering can be a powerful tool for learning and growth. Forgiveness means accepting what happened, understanding your actions, and moving forward without being anchored by guilt.
How can I tell if I’m truly ready to forgive myself?
You’re ready to forgive yourself when you understand the impact of your actions, feel remorse, and are willing to make amends or changes. It’s about accepting the past, learning from it, and letting go of self-condemnation.
How can I prevent myself from dwelling on the past and ruminating?
Practice mindfulness and focus on the present to stop dwelling on the past. Engage in activities that keep you grounded in the now. Learning from the past but not letting it define your present is key to moving forward.
Is self-forgiveness selfish when it hurts the other person?
Self-forgiveness isn’t selfish, even if the other person is hurt. It’s a crucial step for emotional healing and growth. It doesn’t negate the hurt caused but allows you to learn and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
In a nutshell
Forgiving yourself for ruining a relationship is a journey that demands patience, understanding, and a conscious effort toward personal growth. It’s a process that involves acknowledging mistakes, confronting difficult emotions, and embracing the imperfections inherent in being human.
You can walk on the path of self-forgiveness by setting realistic expectations, practicing self-compassion, seeking support, and focusing on personal growth. This journey not only alleviates the burden of guilt and shame but also opens the door to improved well-being and healthier relationships in the future.
Remember, forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness, is a choice—a powerful act of kindness toward oneself that paves the way for healing and renewal.
The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts Read more to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice. Read less
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