How to Forgive Yourself and Move on from the Past

Have you ever felt like a complete and total failure in life?

Have you made mistakes that you felt you could never get over?

Do you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how God could ever love such a mess-up as you?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions you first need to know that you are not alone. In fact, most of us have gone through periods like that at one point or another.

There was a period of time when I had made some serious mistakes that not only affected my life, but the lives of those closest to me. I felt like I couldn’t hold my head up or look people in the eyes: that’s how much shame and guilt I felt.

I also felt like I failed God and I even wondered if I would ever feel His love again. Thankfully, we don’t have to base our lives on feelings. There is hope and God doesn’t want us to live our lives that way.

When Jesus died on the cross, one of the things He did was free us from guilt and shame, so that we could live life free.

For most people, forgiving yourself and moving on from your past is a process that is going to take time. The more you feel you have to forgive the more time it will probably take. Recognizing that is an important first step.

There are also layers to forgiveness just like an onion. To get down to the center you have to keep peeling it back one layer at a time. As you get through each layer you will feel an increased level of freedom and peace. Are you ready?

The Process of Forgiveness

The process of forgiveness has several steps to it. Not everyone will need to do all the steps or even do them in order, but the first step is absolutely vital to moving forward.

1. You make a choice

Forgiveness always starts with a choice. A while back, I had been spending a lot of time wallowing in some mistakes I had made and not letting go of them. God said something to me that shocked me and caused me to look at things differently.

He said, “Was my sacrifice on the cross not enough for you?” It really caught me off-guard and as I got to thinking about it, I realized that since God paid such a high price to forgive me, what right did I have not to forgive myself? Sobering thought, isn’t it?

When I don’t forgive myself I am trampling on the gift that God paid so much for. Let’s just say after that, it was easy to make the choice to forgive myself.

2. Make a list

For some people making a list of everything they want to forgive themselves for is a great way to deal with a lot of things all at the same time. For others they will want to deal with things individually as they come up. Choose the way that works best for you.

3. Say it out loud

Whether you are dealing with many things at once or an individual item, you need to say out loud that you forgive yourself for that. In God’s word it says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). When we say we forgive ourselves out loud it gives life to it and brings it to reality faster.

4. Let God come in and heal your heart

Step one in this process is a choice of your will as an act of obedience, but the feelings of failure will still be there and only God can heal them. There will be times when everything comes back to mind and you start to feel the guilt and shame again and that is when you need to remind yourself that you are forgiven and to ask God to come in and heal those emotions.

The big thing is when those emotions come up, don’t give into them. They will drag you back into the past where you don’t want to be and you need to live for the future to be free.

5. Live as if you actually are forgiven

I know that this may be a strange thing to say, but so many times I have seen people who chose to forgive themselves but still acted as if they were not forgiven. Once you are forgiven, your sin is longer a part of you, and when you look in the mirror you need to see the new you who is clean and free from your past.

When you talk about yourself, don’t put yourself down. You are not that person who made those mistakes anymore. They are gone and they can only hurt you if you continue to choose to carry them around.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools that God has given us to lead a happy, content and free life. It is not something that we deserve. It is a wonderful gift and like all gifts you have to receive it, if you want to use it.

Take the first steps to freeing yourself from all those past things that hold you down and you will be so glad that you did.

Related posts

Living By Faith – free eBook

Faithworks Centre, Prince Edward Island is a church where people from all walks of life join to grow in faith.

It’s not easy to live a life of faith in today’s fast-paced world.

That’s why we’ve created a 17-page, 3-part guide to Living By Faith.

Learn about how to strengthen your faith, follow Jesus’ command to love and serve others, and understand how love casts out fear.

Get your free guide by just entering your email address below!

Living by Faith


  1. Reply
    Heather Sliva says

    Thank you so much for your sharing. Our church is going in a New Direction and there are things that I would like to precept to my pastor but I was a little leery because I know that there are things that I have not done I should have. You’ve given me the courage to and do what I didn’t do before.

Post a comment