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Tiny Wisdom: You Need to Forgive Yourself

“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

There’s a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting where a therapist named Sean repeatedly tells the wayward genius Will, “It’s not your fault.” This comes on the heels of a conversation about the severe abuse Will suffered from his foster father, which led him to a life of legal battles and underachievement.

The first time Sean says, “It’s not your fault,” Will responds with a nonchalant, “Yeah, I know.”

But as he repeats it, over and over again, the words penetrate through Will’s tough exterior, and eventually break him down, until he’s crying in his therapist’s arms. This scene gets to me every time, because I know that “Yeah, I know.” And I also know that lost, vulnerable feeling of realizing that I really don’t know—and it’s holding me back.

There are certain things that most of us understand are true. We know that no one can love us if we don’t love ourselves. We know we shouldn’t blame ourselves for things other people have done. We know we need to accept ourselves or else we’ll never be happy.

But sometimes despite knowing these things intellectually, we forget them internally. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and remember we’re doing the best we can—and our best is good enough.

Today if you’re tempted to get hard on yourself over that situation that didn’t pan out, or that relationship that didn’t work out, or the bad habit you didn’t cut out, cut yourself some slack instead. We all have room for improvement; it’s called being human.

But also, we all have gifts and talents that can make the world a better place. We can only share them if we realize that who we are is worth sharing.

Photo by eschipul

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) & co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you get unstuck & change your life. She's now seeking stories to include in her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges by Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story! For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

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  • Christy

    It sounds so easy on paper, but when it comes down to it, this is my biggest struggle…

  • Patrick

    Thank you for this moving and touching post.  I find it hard to breathe reading it but I hope it is just one more step towards really getting to “I know”.

    Be well.

  • http://aspindle.com tannerc

    Such powerful advice. It’s not easy, but something as simple as repeating a similar phrase to yourself every day (or writing it down and putting it somewhere you can see it everyday) can help.

  • Aliciadawg

    I loved this post I have the hardest time trying to love myself and learning how to just hangout with myself and truly find myself again.

  • Sundancebleu

    I want to thank you for this.  Your thoughts come to me at a time when I’m going through exactly this…Learning how to love and forgive myself.  Your words both comfort and strengthen me.  It is so true how you can understand something logically, but not emotionally.  The latter takes time, and effort.  When you do get it, it’s wonderful and freeing, and then it takes practice to develop it.  Amazing how it appeared in my inbox today.  Like the saying I love so much “When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive”. 

  • http://twitter.com/fr3dly fr3dly

    man, i always need this kind of information. thanks.

  • Jennifer

    Yeah I can relate to that a lot.  There’s so many thinks I know in my head, but seem to have lost in my heart.  It’s frustrating because I think that knowledge in your brain kind of holds you back.  When someone says “it’s not your fault” and you say “Yeah I know” and blow it off because your head knows and it never makes its way inside.  Maybe if you didn’t really know it would hit your heart faster.

  • karen

    thanks so much for this inspiring post… might even help me get out of this bed today :)

  • Gabba

    I find really hard to love myself, truly love and accept myself, my unloved inner child. I also know it was not my fault. Doing this alone is difficult, requires a great amount of energy mindfulness that sometimes I just don’t have.
    Thanks for this, I think ti woke me up a little bit.

  • http://www.onemanswonder.com Jeffrey Willius

    Lori — Thanks for this gem, especially how you (and Leo Buscaglia) point out that forgiving ourselves isn’t just about our being happy, but also about what it means to others whose lives we touch. So true, so good to remember.
    I’m also moved by that scene from Good Will Hunting — I think it taps into something almost everyone can relate with.

  • Vanessa

    Thank you for this post. Reading it today means so much because of the pain and emotions that have overcome me. My beloved little dog, Chance, was run over this morning and died. On top of that I found out that my ex, whom I’m still in love with, is now with someone else. I don’t think I would be as upset about it as it has been 3 months since our breakup except that he had continued to stay in regular contact and as a result I kept leading myself to false sense of hope. I feel somewhat ashamed for still having these emotions and the loss of Chance amplifies it all. Thank you for these words and I will continue to read them as a ways to soothe the big ache that’s taken over my heart.

  • Rachelheeter49

    very touching

  • Pola Papaleondiou

    This is beautiful as your posts always are.  It brought tears to my eyes because I could really relate to that.

  • http://droppingtheact.blogspot.com/ Taryn

    I am a big intellectualizer myself. I can stay in my head and list all the things “I know” but I’m a big wuss on the inside and sometimes I find it hard to have compassion for myself. Somehow I can always do it for others but I guess we’re less objective when it comes to our own imperfections. Either way, this post is a great reminder to be kind to myself. Thank you Lori :)

  • http://twitter.com/lifeforinstance Life, for instance

    Hi Lori!
    Good Will Hunting was such a wonderful movie! (“How do you like these apples?”!) I did love the way Sean got through to him by repeatedly saying it wasn’t his fault.
    This was beautifully written Lori. ;-)
    Lori

  • deb from p.s. bohemian

    been working on maintaining knowledge/belief in this Truth this season as I transition through the end of my marriage – it has been vital and everytime I lose sight of it I spiral into guilt over things I had no control over and could not fix alone.
    remembering/knowing/believing i need to forgive myself for my own shortcomings in this change AND that I could not alone create a healthy relationship are key in my transitioning into a new and season of my life in a whole/healthy/free manner <3

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Happy Saturday, friends! To be a little more time-efficient, I am responding to all comments in one. It’s always amazing to me when I write something like this and see that it’s relevant to so many people. It gives me strength to remember that we are all very similar, and we are all in this together. I’m so glad this tiny post provided a little light for you. Thank you for being here. =)

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://nochnoch.com noch – be me. be natural

    it took me a while too to accept that spiraling into severe depression wasn’t my fault. for the longest time i wouldn’t “know”. finally “i know”, and thats when healing started to happen…

  • http://www.liveandlovework.com Chrysta Bairre

    Thanks for this awesome reminder to keep repeating positive messages to myself.

    It’s so easy to get hung up on a perceived mistake or failure and let it get me down. Fortunately I’ve learned to love myself enough that I don’t stay down for long. And when I do get down, I can love myself enough to not beat myself up about that, either.

    I just wrote a post last week about making the best of mistakes and accepting that we’re all human. Mistakes are to be expected and they are part of living, loving and learning. Sometimes mistakes can be the best thing that happens to us, especially if we realize that it’s okay to make mistakes, and we learn something really important that sets us on a positive and productive path in life.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Patrick.  I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. I love what you wrote about self-love being a practice. It’s just like with yoga and meditation–we need to continually come back to the practice, knowing it’s a journey, not a destination. Sending you lots of love. =) ~Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Yes, it’s so true! When I look back at my life, I recognize that some of my biggest mistakes paved the way for my greatest joys. It doesn’t always seem like that will be the case in the moment, when I may feel ashamed or regretful, but it’s always comforting to remember that those feelings will both pass and transform. Everything does!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Yes, it’s one of my favorites, both because I love the beautiful message, and because I have a soft spot for a thick Boston accent. It reminds me of everything I love about home. Happy Sunday!  =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, Taryn. I’m a big intellectualizer, too, and a perfectionist, so I could relate to what you wrote. Writing about these things helps me move them from my head to my heart. I’m so glad you found this helpful. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I am so sorry about your dog and your ex. That’s a lot to take in all at once. I know that feeling of holding out hope. And I know that even though it probably doesn’t seem this way, sometimes losing hope is the beginning of opening up to something better. I hope you are spending your weekend with good friends who love you. Sending lots of love your way! ~Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Jeffrey. I think you’re right–we’ve all pushed down guilt and shame. It gives me goosebumps to watch that scene. Sometimes when I am getting down on myself, I imagine that I am the person holding a younger me in my arms. It sounds so corny to write it, but it reminds that I deserve love and affection.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad this helped, Gabba. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Karen. Sending you lots of love! ~Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://www.onemanswonder.com Jeffrey Willius

    Not corny at all. I love that image! You definitely deserve love and affection — not just from the usual suspects, but from the huge, mutually supportive, hopeful community you’re building around the world!

  • Lpgacotton

    I’m sharing this awesome lesson with others.  Thank you for reminding me to love myself first.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. =)

  • http://twitter.com/PhilFeelsGood Phil Drolet

    Lori, that was beautiful. I think a lot of ambitious people are their own worse self-critic, and while this helps strive for constant improvement, it can also get a bit draining.

    As you say, we “need to remember we’re doing the best we can—and our best is good enough”. Then, in due time, success will invariably come.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Phil. I think it also helps to know our individual definitions of success. My definition involves self-acceptance, so if I am hard on myself, I am not successful!

  • http://www.larrynocella.com Larry Nocella

    What a great site! I’ve been following @tinybuddha on Twitter never clicked on a link. I love the categories at the top – very helpful. Unfortunately, I can’t click them all at once. LOL. Great site! I’ll be back.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Welcome Larry! I’m glad you found your way here. It’s a pleasure to e-meet you. =)

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  • Stephen

    Thank you for the post. I find that to work past ‘guilt’ which is masqueraded under many masks of denial, anger, depression, inpatience, resentments, and materialistic ‘wants’ (as opposed to needs)…everything that makes one actually separated from the Self, and indulges the me self-centered focus. I must also forgive others (not necessarily to their face) by simply being right-way’d with them. There are entire books out there and available on Forgiveness alone, and just to bother to search them out is a good sign indeed. I have found that ‘seemingly’ there are many out there so buried in denial they see nothing to forgive…readers of your blog are likely well beyond that stage though thankfully. I hope I do not need to be forgiven for even writing this (it can be taken very far)…I write only to share my own very personal journey down the road of forgiveness in the past few days with a focus only on the Light of Truth and Love…to know..that many are taking time to Reality -ize this importance is very resting to my (and thus, our) Heart. Love.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for taking the time to write Stephen. I know all about the me-centered focus. I find myself coming back to this idea a lot, as I believe it truly has been cause of my deepest suffering. When I stop fixating on myself and my feelings, I am so much more at peace.

  • http://twitter.com/morthalaanilred Anil Reddy

    It is awesome site . It contains more famous love quotes .site contains famous words  .  Hats off to your site  . I like this site very much .So thank you very much.

    Regards

    Love quotes

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  • http://twitter.com/SidKali Sid Kali

    Awesome site. Simple words of comfort are great.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Sid!

  • Debra Brockmann

    Thank you. I resist saying much more than this…even though this cut to the quick. But yet again…I thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • Lilia

    I made a mistake a few weeks ago that I cant seem to forget or forgive myself, I acted immaturely and out of character after a tough breakup. Im working on forgiving myself and learning from what I did, its tough but im trying. Many articles on this site have helped me so much,including this one, thank you:)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know how tough it can be Lilia. I’m this glad this post and others on the site have been helpful to you!

  • stegstephen

    Thank you for your wisdom, there was a calmness over me while I read this post, it touched me. It does actually work forgiving and having an acceptance of self, I get a sense of love all over me.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/summer.hatter Samar Hattar

    This post was amazing and very inspiring, especially to people with very low esteem. Thank you, Samar

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. =)