Does forgiving others come easier than forgiving yourself? You’re not alone. Here are a few quotes to help you let go of mistakes and forgive yourself.

Forgiveness, and whether or not you grant it, has the power to affect your mental well-being. Yet, many people have difficulty forgiving the person they’re never without — themselves.

Self-forgiveness, in particular, can affect your well-being for the better or worse, depending on how easily you grant it.

An older 2001 study found that notforgiving yourself or others may put you at higher risk for depression. Holding on to negative emotions about yourself lowers your overall self-esteem and opens the door to anxiety and depression.

You might ask, “Why do I have a hard time with self-forgiveness?” It can be hard to forgive yourself because it requires looking at mistakes and facing uncomfortable feelings like guilt and regret.

A 2021 study found that tolerance of negative feelings and confrontation with one’s behavior is part of the self-forgiveness process.

A journey of self-forgiveness lets you step into the future without the past holding you back. We can all use a little help on the way.

Brilliant minds, from artistic to philosophical and psychological to theological, have offered thoughts and inspiring words to help you reframe self-forgiveness.

a quote illustration of a quote by Catherine PonderShare on Pinterest
PC-Quotes Illustration, Quote Card, Anxiety Illustration by Bailey Mariner

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

― Mahatma Gandhi, “All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections”

Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim—letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.

― C.R. Strahan, “The Roan Maverick”

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.

— Roberto Assagioli

When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.

— Nelson Mandela

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

— Alice Walker

The forgiving state of mind is a magnetic power for attracting good.

— Catherine Ponder

Just as white light consists of colored rays, so reverence for life contains all the components of ethics: love, kindliness, sympathy, empathy, peacefulness, and power to forgive.

— Albert Schweitzer, “The Teaching of Reverence for Life”

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.

— Cherie Carter-Scott, “If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules”

Forgiveness does not change the past but it does change the future.

— Paul Lewis Boese, 1967 The Weekly Digest

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Bailey Mariner

Because forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.

— Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.

— Desmond Tutu

The most basic method one can use to let go of the past is by looking at it as a learning experience.

— Stephen Richards

Learn from the past, be thankful for the past, forgive the mistakes of the past, and let it go.

— Debasish Mridha

To forgive is to refuse to contaminate the future with the errors of the past.

— Craig D. Lounsbrough

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.

— Bernard Meltzer

Forgive the past and let it go with great gratitude. It will allow us to embrace the present and future with love, enthusiasm and passion.

— Debasish Mridha

Forgive yourself first. Let go of past hurts and direct your spirit to goodness and hope by having gratitude.

— Janet Taylor Spence

No one can or will ever feel your pain as much as you. Forgive yourself for the past, seize the gift of the present moment.

— K.J. Kilton

You cannot win your future if you cannot forgive your past.

— Ikechukwu Joseph

Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Bailey Mariner

Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.’

— Jodi Picoult

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.

— Maya Angelou

When you forgive, you immerse yourself in healing waters.

— Stephen Richards

Forgive yourself for what you think you’ve done or not done. At every moment, you had your reasons for all of your actions and decisions. You’ve always done the best that you could do. Forgive yourself.

— Doreen Virtue

You cannot travel back in time to fix your mistakes, but you can learn from them and forgive yourself for not knowing better.

— Leon Brown

Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil; With them forgive yourself.

— William Shakespeare

Embrace and love all of yourself—past, present, and future. Forgive yourself quickly and as often as necessary. Encourage yourself. Tell yourself good things about yourself.

— Melody Beattie

Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.

— Leo F. Buscaglia

Forgive yourself; you are not perfect. Show yourself grace; you are still learning. Show yourself patience; you are on a journey.

— Shannon Yvette Tanner

Forgiving yourself, believing in yourself and choosing to love yourself are the best gifts one could receive.

— Brittany Burgunder

Self-forgiveness can prevent you from condemning yourself and feeding feelings of anxiety and depression. But many people ask, “How do I forgive my past self?”

Take responsibility

It can be difficult to admit when you’ve done something wrong, but it may allow you to acknowledge a mistake without rationalizing or justifying it.

Feel and express remorse

Many people get stuck once the negative emotions start flowing. But these emotions can help you learn and grow from past mistakes.

Try to observe your feelings without judgment as you use your negative emotions as a motivator for change.

Make amends

If you can, apologize and try to restore your relationships. That’s not always possible, but doing so may reduce negative emotions and help repair relationships.

If it’s impossible to restore relationships with those you care for, try to focus on forgiving yourself.

Be patient, and give yourself a chance to learn and change

Self-forgiveness gives you a chance to learn from past mistakes and change. Try to be patient, and give yourself time. Forgiveness of any kind is a process.

Self-forgiveness isn’t always easy. If ruminating over past mistakes affects your mental health, a mental health professional can help.

Try to think of self-forgiveness as taking care of your mental health.

Consider creating space for yourself to observe and acknowledge how you feel without judgment. And try to offer yourself compassion as you journey through the process of self-forgiveness.