How Do I Forgive Myself for Saying Nasty Things I Regret and Didn’t Mean: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Healing

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc


Fact Checked

A figure surrounded by swirling dark clouds, reaching towards a glowing light, symbolizing the struggle to forgive oneself

Note: This post is supported by our readers and contains affiliate links, which will earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. Therapy Helpers does not accept money for reviews.

We’ve all had moments when we’ve said things we didn’t mean, and the regret can be overwhelming. Self-forgiveness is crucial for mental health, allowing us to let go of guilt and move forward.

It’s important to recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that holding onto these negative emotions only harms us.

Start by acknowledging your feelings and accepting responsibility for your words. This doesn’t mean beating yourself up; it means understanding the impact of your actions and showing compassion to yourself. It’s a process of healing, not just a one-time event. Give yourself the same kindness you would offer a friend.

Identify practical strategies that can help you forgive yourself. Techniques such as mindfulness, talking to a trusted person, or journaling can be very effective.

Remember, forgiveness is a choice and a journey, and by taking these steps, you can begin to let go of the past and focus on a more positive future.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-forgiveness is crucial for mental health.
  • Healing is a process and requires acknowledging your feelings.
  • Practical strategies can guide you to let go of the past.

Understanding Self-Forgiveness

YouTube video

Self-forgiveness involves recognizing and letting go of negative emotions such as guilt and shame. It is essential for mental health and personal growth. Let’s explore what self-forgiveness is, how emotions play a role, and the differences between guilt and shame.

Defining Self-Forgiveness

Self-forgiveness is the process of accepting one’s mistakes and moving forward. It involves acknowledging one’s actions and understanding that making errors is a part of being human. This doesn’t mean ignoring wrongdoings but rather learning from them and striving to do better.

Forgiving oneself can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. It allows individuals to address their actions without being held back by continuous regret. By accepting their flaws, people can foster personal growth and healing.

Ad, keeps our community free. The perspectives presented on this website are genuinely our own and we do not accept money for reviews.

Onlinetherapycom Logo
talkspace review

4.8 (4,147+) From

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist online within 24 hours.

✓ Experienced professional therapists only

✓ You can message your therapist 24/7

✓ Plans as low as $40/week, billed every four weeks

✓ Financial aid available

20% off through Therapy Helpers

Role of Emotions in Self-Forgiveness

Emotions play a crucial part in self-forgiveness. Guilt and shame are common feelings that can arise after saying or doing something regrettable. Guilt can motivate individuals to make amends and correct their behavior. It often leads to positive change when acknowledged and addressed.

Shame, on the other hand, can be more damaging. It involves seeing oneself as inherently flawed and can hinder self-forgiveness.

By learning to manage these emotions properly, individuals can overcome negative feelings and start forgiving themselves, paving the way for personal growth and emotional healing.

Differences Between Guilt and Shame

Understanding the differences between guilt and shame is vital. Guilt focuses on the specific actions or words that one regrets. It is tied to behavior and can be viewed as a constructive emotion.

People feel guilt when they recognize they have done something wrong and can take steps to make things right.

Shame is more about self-perception. It involves feeling fundamentally flawed or unworthy. Because shame targets one’s sense of self, it can be more challenging to overcome.

Recognizing these differences helps in addressing the root causes of these emotions, making self-forgiveness more achievable.

By managing both guilt and shame, individuals can work towards understanding and practicing self-forgiveness, improving their emotional and mental well-being.

Confronting the Past

YouTube video

Dealing with the regret of saying something nasty requires facing the past honestly. This process involves different steps, which are explored in the following subsections.

Acknowledging Past Mistakes

Recognizing the mistakes you made is crucial. When you admit to having said something hurtful, it opens the door to healing. Denial only prolongs the pain and guilt. Take a moment to reflect on what you said and how it conflicts with your values.


  • What exactly did you say?
  • Why did you say it?
  • How do these words reflect on who you want to be?

By reflecting deeply, you start identifying the negative behavior patterns that led to those regrettable moments. Writing in a journal can be particularly helpful here. This act of acknowledgment is a key move toward making amends with yourself.

Understanding the Impact of Your Actions

Once the mistake is acknowledged, the next step is to understand the consequences. Analyzing the hurt caused is important. It’s not just about what was said, but how it affected others.

Consider the feelings of the person who heard the harsh words. Think about how your words created emotional pain. Recognizing this can help in building empathy. Also, consider the long-term impact of these actions on your relationships.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did my words make the other person feel?
  • Has this changed our relationship in any way?
  • What are the lasting effects of my words on those around me?

This step is about moving beyond your own perspective and understanding the broader emotional and social consequences of your actions.

Ad, keeps our community free. The perspectives presented on this website are genuinely our own and we do not accept money for reviews.

Onlinetherapycom Logo
talkspace review

4.8 (4,147+) From

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist online within 24 hours.

✓ Experienced professional therapists only

✓ You can message your therapist 24/7

✓ Plans as low as $40/week, billed every four weeks

✓ Financial aid available

20% off through Therapy Helpers

Accepting Responsibility

Taking responsibility means owning up to your words and their effects. It’s a tough but essential step. Apologizing to those hurt by your words shows that you are willing to make amends. While an apology doesn’t erase the past, it’s a sign of sincerity and willingness to change.

Steps to Take:

  • Sincerely apologize to the person affected.
  • Make efforts to change your behavior in the future.
  • Establish boundaries to prevent similar mistakes.

Accepting responsibility is not just about the apology but also about making sure similar incidents don’t happen again. By doing so, you create a path to personal growth and better relationships.

The Process of Healing

YouTube video

Healing from saying things you regret involves several steps. It’s about acknowledging your mistakes, taking responsibility, and fostering positive relationships that can support your well-being.

Steps to Forgiving Yourself

To forgive yourself, start by accepting responsibility for what you said. Acknowledge the harm caused and understand that everyone makes mistakes. Facing your actions without making excuses is a crucial step.

Reflect on what led to those words. Were you stressed, angry, or hurt? Recognizing the triggers can help you manage similar situations in the future. Write down your feelings if talking seems hard. Writing can provide clarity and help release pent-up emotions.

Practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer a friend. Remind yourself that self-forgiveness is necessary for healing and moving forward.

Apologize if possible. A sincere apology can repair relationships and reduce feelings of guilt. It shows that you are committed to positive change.

Building Positive Relationships

Strengthening your relationships can aid in the healing process. Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage your growth and well-being. These relationships can provide love and understanding during tough times.

Communicate openly. Share your feelings and experiences with trusted friends or family. Honest conversations can ease stress and foster deeper connections.

Rebuild trust by consistently showing kindness and respect. Small gestures of love and care can go a long way.

Consider seeking professional help. Therapists or counselors can offer strategies to manage negative emotions and improve your interactions with others. They can help you navigate through feelings of anger and bitterness.

Nurturing positive relationships not only improves your mental health but also supports a healthier, happier life.

Practical Strategies for Self-Forgiveness

A figure standing in front of a mirror, looking at their reflection with a pensive expression, surrounded by words like "forgive" and "let go" written on sticky notes

Forgiving oneself for hurtful words can be challenging, but there are several effective methods that can help. These include keeping a forgiveness journal, seeking professional help, and practicing empathy and kindness towards oneself and others.

Using a Forgiveness Journal

A forgiveness journal is a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth. By writing down feelings, thoughts, and events leading up to the hurtful words, individuals can gain a better understanding of their actions. This journal should be a safe space to express guilt, regret, and self-compassion.

Writing regularly can help identify patterns and triggers. This awareness can lead to better control over words in the future. Additionally, documenting progress can be motivating as it shows how far someone has come in their journey towards forgiveness.

Seeking Professional Help

Sometimes, professional help from a therapist is necessary to navigate complex feelings. Therapy can provide a structured environment to explore the root causes of regret and guilt. Therapists can offer strategies and tools tailored to an individual’s needs.

Different types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or talk therapy, can be beneficial. CBT, for example, helps in changing negative thought patterns.

Regular therapy sessions can also be a form of self-care, promoting ongoing personal growth and healing.

Practicing Empathy and Kindness

Practicing empathy towards oneself involves recognizing that everyone makes mistakes. It’s important to treat oneself with the same kindness one would offer a friend. This includes being patient and understanding, rather than harsh and critical.

Small acts of kindness towards oneself, like taking time to engage in activities that bring joy or relaxation, can make a big difference. Learning to forgive oneself is a continuous process that involves both self-empathy and empathy towards others who may also be affected by one’s words.

By focusing on these strategies, individuals can move towards a more forgiving and compassionate relationship with themselves.

Moving Forward with a Renewed Purpose

A figure walks confidently towards the horizon, leaving behind a trail of words that dissolve into the air. The atmosphere is filled with a sense of determination and resolution

To move forward with a renewed purpose after regretting hurtful words, it’s important to set new standards for oneself, build a positive self-image, and welcome opportunities for development.

Setting New Expectations for Yourself

Creating realistic and positive expectations for oneself is critical. Begin by acknowledging past behavior and understanding its impact. Then, set goals that emphasize personal growth and wellness. Use clear and achievable milestones to track progress.

For example, if someone realizes the harm caused by their words, they might commit to thoughtful communication and active listening in the future. By setting these new standards, they foster accountability and encourage self-improvement.

Cultivating a Positive Self-Identity

Positive self-identity is key to maintaining self-esteem and wellness. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that errors are part of the human experience. Focus on strengths and achievements to build a healthier self-perception.

Engage in activities that reinforce a positive self-view, such as volunteering or pursuing hobbies. By doing so, individuals can see themselves as capable and worthy, reinforcing a constructive identity that stands resilient against future regrets.

Embracing Personal Growth and Future Opportunities

Embrace every mistake as a chance for personal growth. Future opportunities for development should be seen as ways to learn and evolve. Reflect on past experiences to identify growth areas and commit to improvement.

Seek out resources such as books, workshops, or therapy to aid in this journey. Engage in continuous learning to adapt and grow from past mistakes, turning them into stepping stones for a better self.

By focusing on setting clear expectations, cultivating a positive identity, and embracing growth, individuals can move forward with a renewed purpose and make meaningful progress in their personal wellness journey.

Looking for more mental health tips? Make sure to follow our Mental Health Board on Pinterest!

Recommended Insights:

A cozy office with two chairs facing each other, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and a bookshelf filled with resources on co-parenting and communication

Co-Parenting Counseling: Effective Strategies for Successful Childraising

Discover expert-backed strategies to create a harmonious co-parenting environment that prioritizes your child's well-being.
A serene room with a comfortable chair, soft lighting, and calming decor. A therapist guides a client through relaxation techniques and positive affirmations

Hypnotherapy for OCD: Is It Effective?

Discover how hypnotherapy can offer a transformative approach to managing OCD, providing relief and empowering individuals to reclaim control over their lives.
A laptop sits open on a cluttered desk, displaying a video call with a therapist. A globe and travel souvenirs surround it, hinting at the expat's struggle for identity

Expat Identity Crisis: Navigating Self-Discovery with Therapy

Discover how therapy can help expatriates navigate the complexities of self-identity and find a sense of belonging in foreign lands.

About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

Leave a Comment