How to Practice Self-Forgiveness and Compassion

Think of a time someone really hurt or disappointed you. They knew they hurt you and may have expressed how sorry they were for their actions. This person means a lot to you, and you appreciate their apology. You choose to forgive them because you can acknowledge these truths:

  • Everyone makes mistakes
  • Humans are not perfect
  • People deserve second chances
  • Forgiveness allows for healing to happen 

Now, switch your focus and think of yourself. There have probably been times when you messed up and felt totally guilty. You may have hurt a friend, broken a promise to your sibling, or done something that let yourself down. Even though you believe that the friend who hurt you deserves forgiveness, you weren’t as quick to extend that compassion to yourself, were you? 

Why do we hold back on showing ourselves the same forgiveness we give others? Do we not think we are worthy? This is your reminder that you deserve love and compassion just as much as anyone in this world! 

Why You Deserve Self-Compassion and Forgiveness

No matter how hard you try, being without flaws is a goal we all wish we could achieve (but never will). In pursuit of this impossible standard, people might even become perfectionists. Perfectionists push themselves and push themselves until they reach their breaking point. They work non-stop and refuse to take breaks in fear of falling behind or missing out on things they should be accomplishing. 

Think of the list that was mentioned at the beginning of this article – there are specific reminders that we all should hold in our hearts and minds. One big reminder you should keep is that humans are not perfect – it is not in our nature! It can be challenging to accept, but no one is perfect. 

Mistakes happen, and that is okay! We need to learn that mistakes are actually a good thing!

News Flash: Mistakes are Surprisingly Beneficial 

Without mistakes, we wouldn’t experience growth and maturation in our lives. Initially, you may feel embarrassed or discouraged when you make a mistake. Especially if you are a perfectionist, making a mistake can make you feel like a failure – you think that you should have worked harder or done more. After some reflection, you may also realize that mistakes are not as bad as you once thought.

Mistakes help us learn and grow in our journeys in life. For example, if someone makes a mistake at work, it is an opportunity to grow. This person will see what they did wrong and know how to better complete the task next time. If you upset a friend by bringing up a specific topic and they express that it hurt them, you learned to be more sensitive when it comes to these situations in the future. All of these experiences are a chance to learn and improve! Messing up highlights areas where we can improve and allows us to take steps to do better in our lives. 

Open up to the hidden benefits of mistakes! Let mistakes be teachers for you. Allow these instances to mold you into the better, more self-aware version of yourself. 

Boost Self-Compassion in Your Life by:

  • Accepting that you will make mistakes without being so harsh and self-critical
  • Acknowledging that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes
  • Being a friend to yourself – A friend is someone you speak kindly to, encourage when they feel lost, support, and ultimately share forgiveness with
  • Avoiding putting yourself down with negative self-talk 
  • Holding yourself accountable and giving genuine apologies (to others and yourself)
  • Allowing yourself to apologize and make amends BUT eventually let go and move on – encourage yourself to move forward and ultimately heal 


Remember that you deserve to treat yourself with compassion – this compassion is especially important in times when you mess up or feel bad about yourself. When you feel down about yourself, take time to embrace your emotions. It’s okay to be sad or disappointed for some time. Comfort yourself by practicing self-care or venting in a journal. Do things that make you feel good and help you feel better in tough times. 

Practice positive affirmations when feeling negative and repeat encouraging phrases in your head. Mindfulness practices can also help you find inner peace and stability once more. If you feel stressed or upset with yourself, try going on a mindful walk or doing a guided meditation. Express gratitude for all you do and remind yourself why you appreciate yourself. You can do this through a gratitude list or by writing a letter of appreciation to yourself. 

I wish you the best of luck with boosting self-love and compassion in your life. Remember that life is a journey and that we all will experience ups and downs. Be proud of any progress you make and have patience when you are in the low points. Believe that you will rise up again! You deserve to show compassion to yourself no matter what stage you are in.

Jackie Caputo, LMFT in Woodland Hills, CA | Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Woodland Hills

About the Author

Jackie Caputo is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who provides therapy in Woodland Hills, CA. She also provides online therapy in California to individuals throughout the state.