Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How good are you at forgiving yourself when you make a mistake?

Asked by wundayatta (58635points) March 5th, 2010

I was reading this article about Catholic priests and psychiatry and I ran across these two sentences:

“At the heart of confession is forgiveness: by telling the truth and showing contrition, the sinner is absolved and, presumably, goes forth determined to resist further wrongdoing. So it is with psychiatry—or so it was hoped.”

To me this is about being nonjudgmental about moral mistakes. In my adventures through life the last few years, I have discovered that it is important to have a nonjudgmental listener if you are to be able to talk about some things. Both Catholic priests and psychologists can serve this role.

However, Catholic priests can absolve you of the sin. Psychologists can’t. Perhaps most importantly, though, is whether an individual forgives his or herself.

Can you forgive yourself for your mistakes? Or do they haunt you for a long time? Does confession help? Does making amends help? Do you confess or make amends? Do you hold onto your guilt and let it ride inside you for a long time, if not forever?

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40 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I used to lie awake at night running over and over my imagined “sins,” embarrassing moments, incidents of bad judgment, etc.

I finally learned to forgive myself for the most part.

ucme's avatar

I don’t find it a problem at all.To me it’s the same as being able to laugh at myself, my flaws,errors.Essential for my well being I believe.After all To err is human, is it not?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You’ve seen my track record. I’ve had to make myself learn from my mistakes and analyze what or how I screwed up and make sure I handle myself better the next time. If I can learn from a mistake, it helps me move on. I try to make amends whenever possible, but sometimes it isn’t possible and I just live with it.

CMaz's avatar

We learn from our mistakes.

So it is not about forgiving but learning.

OperativeQ's avatar

I’m horrible at forgiving myself. And I have no one to ‘confess’ to. It’s a drag.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’ll let you know when I make one….;))

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The other side of this is I’m very forgiving to others when they make a mistake, and it really torques me when someone else doesn’t give another some slack when they screw up. We’re all humans, or most of us, and we make mistakes. Big deal. Like when I added lucilelucieleluceile to my fluther without checking out her proficiency with firearms.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I may learn from my mistakes, but I endlessly beat myself up for making them. I’ve been doing this since I was a child. Social skills that others learn without effort are some lind of exotic magic to me. I make some social blunder and I begin this self=talk “shut the hell up, shut the hell up…”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I think turning a negative into a positive is how I leave it behind. And giving others slack helps.

Cruiser's avatar

I make mistakes for sure that is part of trying to do things your own way. I never feel guilty about them because I usually own up to them and if my mistake involves other people I try to make sure to square things away.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wundayatta GQ. This got things flowing.

CharlieGirl's avatar

Not very good.I often make some blunders,then don’t forgive myself ever for them.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I don’t need to give others any slack, since they all have better social skills than I do. I’ve found that the best way for me is “take the 5th”; say nothing, do nothing, avoid unnecessary social encounters. You can’t make a social blunder if you’re not there.

tedibear's avatar

“I may learn from my mistakes, but I endlessly beat myself up for making them. I’ve been doing this since I was a child.” @stranger_in_a_strange_land , I hope you don’t mind that copied that. It expresses my feelings on the subject for me perfectly. Thank you.

davidbetterman's avatar

I hardly ever make mistakes.~
But when I do , I am so good at forgiving myself that I would never go to some priest for forgiveness.

Trillian's avatar

At this point in my life I let a lot go. I’m more forgiving towards everyone, including myself. For instance, I just finished my freaking math class with a D. I’m an A student. I not only forgave myself, I knew long before the class was over that I’d be getting a low grade and I just let it go. It was kind of like bad sex in that I just shut my eyes and waited for it to be over. There was a time when I would have forced myself to retake the class and studued my eyes out, holding myself to a standard. Not anymore. I just was….over it one day.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Trillian Math is like bad sex. That analogy is going to stick with me for a little.

wundayatta's avatar

@CharlieGirl, @OperativeQ, @stranger_in_a_strange_land, @tedibear39 Do you have a theory as to why you don’t forgive yourself?

@marinelife How did you learn to forgive yourself?

@ucme How do you laugh at all your mistakes? Do you laugh at the ones that involve significant hurt for others?

@all If anyone could give an example of what we are talking about, I’d appreciate it.

CharlieGirl's avatar

@wundayatta I just hate myself and figure that I could have done things better than what I did do.I’m really not sure.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wundayatta I could tell you what I learned from my horse’s ass tale, but its going to get pretty frigging personal.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@wundayatta Others were able to learn social skills effortlessly. I either cannot learn them at all or have to “fake” neutral responses. The Aspergers Syndrome is a fundamental deficiency in myself. It doesn’t deserve forgiveness any more than a faulty machine part. You can make the machine run without it, but you curse the damned thing all the same.

ucme's avatar

@wundayatta It’s called humility & you’re second remark tells me there’s absolutely no point in even discussing anything with someone so utterly negative & pessimistic as you clearly are.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@ucme I think she he was coming at that one from a position of being hurt, don’t take it quite that strong for lack of a better term. I’m good with genders too.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@ucme I don’t see anything arrogant or pessimistic in @wundayatta s remarks. He’s raising legitimate issues.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wundayatta That’s actually a pretty good example of how I work. I threw that out there hoping to make things better, we’ll see if it blowsup in my face.

ucme's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I never said arrogant, I said negative.Absolutely legitimate issues. Which I answered perfectly honestly & in good faith.I’m refering to the ridiculous question posed that I may laugh at other peoples hurt or upset.Completely without foundation & utterly unecccesary.Anyway as I say not getting involved.Outta here.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Okay, not too bad. I like to live life to the fullest and take a lot of risks. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. But in taking a lot of risks you also have to accept the mistakes and put them to a positive use, or you start backing away from the risks and then missing out on some really good things. My g/f and I have a saying when were evaluating going somewhere we haven’t been before. “You don’t know until you’ve tried it”. Sometimes its good, sometimes its bad, and sometimes its great.

Amsterdamaged's avatar

The forgiving process is usually complete before the mistake is.

OperativeQ's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t forgive myself because I don’t feel like I deserve forgiveness.

janbb's avatar

An interesting question. I want to be glib and say, ‘I used to beat myself a lot but now I just don’t make any mistakes anymore.” Actually, I’m sure I still do make lots of them but I don’t seem to go through the same process of beating myself up for days that I used to. I’m trying to think how I learned not to do this. It certainly was part of the whole process of learning to like myself that I achieved through therapy. I realize that most of my mistakes are not horrendous and are probably more noticed by me than by others. Also, as I am less stuck inside my own head and more aware of other people, I can often see their reaction more quickly when I do make a mistake. If it is an intimate or even a work colleague, I can often take the appropriate action to ameliorate the situation with a discussion or an apology. With my kids especially, I am quick to perceive a negative reaction and discuss any issues with them.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Not very, but getting better. All I ever heard as a kid was that since I was so smart, I should know better after making a mistake. Parents, please, don’t ever, ever, ever say that to your kids. Say what you really mean, which is that you’re disappointed or angry and you don’t like what has happened. Most of the time, no matter how smart I was, I didn’t know better. I was a kid.

OK. So these days, I literally have to catch myself from automatically thinking certain thoughts and believing certain assumptions I started believing as a girl. One of them is to berate myself for mistakes and not forgive myself because “I should’ve known better.” And to imagine that everyone else knows how to handle their lives perfectly, so if I mess up, because I’m so smart, then… oy gevalt, it’s a mess up there, is all I’m saying. I’m working on it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I seem to be able to readily forgive myself on most occasions because many of my transgressions are really small ones. I’m not a saint but I do manage to follow the straight and narrow more often than not.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I’m 99% able to forgive my self, too, but something from back in the late 90’s…I still haven’t been able to forgive myself & I probably never will.

prude's avatar

It depends on how serious the mistake was.
well, sometimes how stupid the mistake was too. but those don’t usually last as long as the ones that are serious.

barbiedoll's avatar

I was told, and I agree it is great advice, to forgive myself for marrying this one man. He changed after the ceremony and became abusive. I knew him for 2 years and he was able to hide the fact he was Bipolar. Right before the ceremony he went off his drugs in secret. He made both of our lives hell. It is very hard to forgive myself for making such a tragic mistake. Yet, I look back at those 2 years, and there is nothing I can see I would change. He’s out of my life, but I am scared to let any other man in my life again.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Ohh…. that’s terrible. But don’t let him gauge every man. There are a lot of good ones out there. You got the bad apple in the barrel. Don’t close yourself off from the male gender. You’ll find one that’s right for you. :-)

tarmar's avatar

I thought I made a mistake once and I was entirely forlorn, till I found out I hadn’t made the mistake, and then I was angry.

filmfann's avatar

I am brutal on my own mistakes, and very forgiving of others.
I wish I could hold myself to the standards I set for others.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@wundayatta You touched on my perspective when you said, ”To me this is about being nonjudgmental about moral mistakes”.

I guess the answer you get depends on how people interpret forgiveness. Most people, I suspect, see forgiveness as (1) finding fault, then (2) overlooking the fault or perceived offense.

You touched on my perspective when you said, ” me this is about being nonjudgmental about moral mistakes”. To me, true forgiveness is finding no fault, hence there’s nothing to “forgive”.

This is not to say that I don’t recognize whatever mistakes I make. It simply acknowledges that whatever I did…or didn’t do, as the case may be…it’s not worth making myself feel miserable about it. It’s not going to change anything. Far healthier and much more productive to acknowledge the mistake and make a sincere effort not to repeat it.

Underlying this are the words a mentor once shared with me. She said…

You perform as great a disservice
taking offense
as giving offense.

lonelydragon's avatar

@filmfann That’s how I feel, too. It’s much easier to forgive others for their mistakes. Because we can’t change other people’s behaviors, it’s easier to accept their mistakes. But when I do something that I believe is wrong, then I have a hard time forgiving myself, because I could’ve chosen to do something that was right or morally neutral instead.

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