Why It Pays To Take It Easy On Yourself


Relationships with our loved ones and acquaintances can be complicated, and for many people, conflicts in this area can be a significant source of stress. Hurting someone we love, even unintentionally, can have a serious impact on our state of emotional and physical wellbeing.

Studies have shown that when people are unable to forgive themselves for such an act, this can be a factor contributing to depression, anxiety and even a weaker immune system. However, new research from Thomas Carpenter, a doctoral student in psychology at Baylor’s College, shows self-forgiveness is easier if people ‘make amends’ first.

His findings were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. To make his conclusions, Mr Carpenter looked at two previous studies. In the first, 269 participants were asked how much they had forgiven themselves for something they had done wrong in the past. They were also asked about the efforts they had made to right the wrong, how much they felt forgiven by the other person, and whether they saw self-forgiveness as morally appropriate.

In the second, 208 people were asked the same questions about a hypothetical act of wrong.

Results from both studies showed that the more people tried to make it up to the other person, the more willing they were to forgive themselves. In addition to this, being forgiven helped the person feel it was “morally all right to let go”. However, in the second study, receiving forgiveness from someone else didn’t have much of an effect on self-forgiveness.

The more guilty the person felt, the less likely they were to be able to forgive themselves. By making amends as much as they could, these feelings can be reduced and some of the personal pressure may be eased.

Hanging onto past mistakes can be a toxic influence on your relationships in the present. As the research shows, we can make it hard to forgive ourselves and let go of something we did wrong. If you’re having trouble forgiving yourself for something in your past take it easy, talk to friends and family or seek professional help, all this can alleviate the burden on your shoulders.