How To Forgive Yourself For Hurting Someone: Seven Ways To Move On

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

When you hurt someone, you care for, your heart and mind reciprocate with regret, sadness, and, sometimes, shame. Even when they have forgiven you, the regret of making such a huge mistake lingers and you may find that you are unable to forgive yourself for your actions. When someone has hurt or wronged you in any way, it can be difficult to move past what they have done and forgive them. But one of the hardest people to forgive is often yourself. However, unforgiveness can continue to hurt you throughout your life as you continue to hold on to the past and judge yourself in a harsh, critical way. Learning how to forgive yourself for hurting someone will free you from these burdens and allow you to move forward with love and self-respect. Read on to discover several ways to let go of past mistakes and live in the present.

Forgiving yourself can be difficult - we're here to help

Why it's important to forgive yourself for hurting someone

When you find yourself in moments of self-loathing or regret because you hurt someone you care for, it is time to take steps to forgive yourself. Understandably so, causing pain in someone you love is horrible and it is easy to rehash these moments and judge yourself for your actions. However, living in unforgiveness can cause a lot of difficulties in your life. It can wreak havoc on both your mental health and your physical health. 

When you unable to forgive yourself, your opinion of yourself and your self-confidence may dwindle. You may be thinking only of your past mistakes and nothing else. This obsessive way of thinking can lead you to focus on only these negative moments and reject anything positive you have done in your life. When this happens, it becomes easy to make your identity about the thing that you did wrong. This is not a healthy place to go.

Showing forgiveness, even to yourself, does good for both your physical and mental health. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:

“Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of a heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.”

When we live in unforgiveness because someone else hurt us, one of the risks is living with bitterness and anger. However, when we live in unforgiveness, some of the consequences include anxiety, grief, and depression. These effects also carry over when we do not forgive ourselves. 

Ways to move toward self-forgiveness

If you continue to live while not forgiving yourself, it will carry over into your ability to enjoy the present moment and dampen your hope for the future. So, while it can be very difficult to forgive yourself and move forward, it's also necessary that you do. Here are some tips to help you.

Apologize to the other person

To overcome the guilt that you are carrying, apologize to the person you hurt. Apologies and guilt often come together. If you haven't taken the step of saying you are sorry to the other person and asking how you can make amends, it's going to be very difficult to forgive yourself. You do not need to ask them for their own forgiveness, as each person has their own path to this place in their lives. However, in apologizing you are taking a step towards not only admitting to the other person that you were wrong but making steps to improve the situation and move forward. It also gives the person you hurt the opportunity to talk to you about what happened.

If it's not possible to ask the other person for forgiveness, such as if they've passed away, then try writing it out in a letter.

If you ask the person for forgiveness and don't accept it, you can still move forward. At that point, you have done what you can to make the situation right. It might be that they need to see that your behavior has changed before they feel like forgiving you, but either way, you don't have to continue to live in on forgiveness to yourself.

Process through the situation and what happened

One step to forgiveness is identifying the problem and processing what happened to understand where things went wrong. What can you learn from it? When we make mistakes in life, there are always lessons that we can learn from them. First, take some time to think through the situation. Think about why it happened and what other options were available instead of the path you took. In thinking of these alternatives, do not mull over them and chastise yourself for not making those choices. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and help you to avoid finding yourself in the same situation again in the future.

Write it out

Journaling is a gentle, self-reflective way where you can work through what is keeping you from forgiving yourself. Writing in a journal helps you take everything floating around in your mind and get it out on paper, which can help you let it go. Furthermore, when you focus your intent in your writing to be purposeful and positive, you are actively playing a role in your mental health. The act of writing the situation that led to your mistake down on paper, along with your decision to forgive yourself, can help you start to put that into action.


Once you write down that you are working towards forgiving yourself, you take a step forward toward processing through the situation. You may also be able to spot things that you didn't see before and allow your mind fully contemplate the event in its entirety. 

Stop replaying the mistake in your mind

Simply put, quit thinking about it! Once you have decided to forgive yourself, you need to make the decision to move on. The more you allow yourself to ruminate in the situation, the more difficult it will be to forgive yourself.

This may be the most challenging part in your path to self-forgiveness.  Our minds often wander to the usual pattern we are used to having, such as negative thoughts, when we are not actively thinking. When you find your mind wandering to the same place of rumination, recognize it, then move on to a new thought pattern. Find something positive to concentrate on, such as finding a new hobby or self-care routine that will brighten your day.

 For example, you may find that your mind starts to wander when you are driving to work. Make sure to pay attention to what you are thinking about during these times. Then, if you catch yourself thinking about things like what a horrible person you are for what you did, remind yourself that you have forgiven yourself. Then, do your best to improve the situation and yourself while moving on and start thinking about something different.

Think about how you forgive someone else

Usually, when we think about forgiveness, we think about needing to extend it to someone else. While moving towards the point of forgiving the person who hurt you is difficult, you most likely reached a point when you were able to do so. This is a familiar place. You probably can think of many points in your life when you have forgiven someone when they hurt you. When you find that you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself, it can help to think about what you do when you need to forgive someone else. Then, apply what you do for other people to your own life.

Work on developing self-love and compassion

When you are struggling to forgive yourself, you are most likely are struggling with showing love for yourself. No one is perfect. There will inevitably be imperfections in your life and things that you do wrong from time to time. This is why it's important to learn how to love yourself as you are, mistakes and all. 

Self-love and self-compassion are two traits you can work on to reach a place of forgiveness. These both involve treating yourself with the same kindness, acceptance, and endearment that you show to others you love in your life. Focus on cultivating more self-love and self-compassion during this time, both of which are supported by research to lower anxiety levels and promote contentment. 

Make the decision

If you are one of the many people that thinks forgiveness is a feeling, know it is not. . Forgiveness is a conscious decision you make to let go of resentment and anger associated with a wrong act. Once you decide to act in forgiveness and you continue to focus on this decision, your feelings will eventually catch up. This means that there will come a time when you must make the decision to forgive yourself or not.  that you have done, there's going to come a time when you need to decide that that's what you're going to do. And it might be something that you need to remind yourself that you have done repeatedly as you work towards living in forgiveness towards yourself.

It can help write down on paper or even electronically that you forgive yourself and put a date on it. Then, you can refer to that note anytime that you're struggling with your unforgiveness. You will most likely find the more you focus on unforgiveness and moving forward, the easier it will get over time. But making that decision has to come first.

What to do when you are stuck

When you are stuck and you have done everything you know how to cope with guilt, yet you still cannot forgive yourself, talk to a therapist. This might not be comfortable, but it can be a necessary step in helping you to move forward and learn self-compassion along with forgiveness.

If the person you hurt was a significant other, and you are still together in a relationship, it could be helpful to couples counseling as well. This can help both of you work through the situation and learn how to re-establish a healthy relationship.

Forgiving yourself can be difficult - we're here to help

There are many different options for therapy. Depending on the details of your situation, you may be able to find a local support group that could help you. You can also find a mental health therapist to work with in person or online. Many people choose online therapy because they are able to attend therapy sessions in the comfort of their own personal space at any convenient time. Research has shown the effectiveness of online therapy, revealing that it is just as beneficial as in-person therapy while being more accessible and cost-effective.   can help you work through the  reasons why you are having a difficult time in letting go of your mistakes and guide you through strategies to manage similar situations in the future. They can also teach you steps to finding forgiveness for yourself and recognize any areas of your life that you need to address. 

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“Sarah has been comforting to me through a very difficult transition . She has helped me to regain confidence and listen to my intuition. She is a great listener and has encouraged me to rediscover and use my voice.”


Forgiveness can be one of the most challenging decisions in life. When someone has hurt or wronged you in any way, it can be difficult to move past what they have done and forgive them. But you probably can remember many times in your life when you have forgiven someone for hurting you. Nonetheless, one of the hardest people to forgive is often yourself. In learning how to work towards self-forgiveness, you now are moving towards a healthier way of perceiving life, both for yourself and those around you. If you still are unable to find this point of forgiveness for yourself, do not hesitate to reach out for help from a therapist when you are ready.

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