To my past self, I forgive you. Love, me.

Isn’t it time to forgive yourself?

How much longer do you think you can hold on to your past?

Don’t you deserve to forgive yourself, the same way you forgive others?

I understand that it may be easier for you to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself.

Sometimes though, you need to give something to yourself first so that you may have more in you to give to others.

You’ve most likely grown from the person you were in the past - not just physically, but also mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. Some of the things that were a priority to you in the past may not be anywhere near what you value today.

This could be the main reason why what you did in the past is now unacceptable to you.

Priorities have changed. Values have changed. Focus has changed.

This new you with changed priorities may not be happy with things that the old you may have done or said in the past.

Maybe you lied, cheated, crossed some limits or hurt someone or yourself in a way that has left you feeling guilty and regretful for years. Maybe it’s more than a few things you did or said - maybe it’s your entire past that you’re not proud of…

Parts of my own past were completely out of place in my life. Like, how could I ever have?! What was I thinking?!

It took a while to face my past and become at peace with my past self, but it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for myself, and I want to share it with you.

If there’s anything I want you to take from this post, it’s this:

To forgive yourself is to free yourself from your own self.

Holding on to past mistakes is like holding on to a burden. That burden usually comes up in the form of guilt, regret, and disappointment. It weighs heavily on you and makes you feel like you’re not good enough.

Past mistakes may make you feel like a failure or a loser. Feeling like a failure or a loser sometimes means you’ll always see yourself in that way. That’s letting your past define your present and even future.

Remember that no one is perfect and everyone (your past self included) makes mistakes.

It may be helpful to give yourself some breathing space and realize that the person you were may have made some mistakes, but the person you are now knows a little better and will not make those same mistakes again.

The person you are now is a bigger and better person who is ready to show up in the world as the best version of herself.

If you’re ready to try self-forgiveness, the following points may help you.

1. Own your past, present, and future.

Know that whatever has happened in the past has happened already.

Acknowledge it.

Own it - whether you’re happy with it or not.

Look at your past without judging yourself and simply acknowledge and accept your past.

Remember that there isn't much you can do to change what has already happened. Your past is just that - your past. It’s not who you are now and not who you want to be.

The present is what you have right now and it’s all you have, because it’s right here. Own it, take full advantage of it, and commit to using your present to build a better future.

Own your future too. What would you want it to look like? Would you want it to be better than your past? Think about it and try to have a clear picture of what you’d like it to look and feel like, and of what you want to be like.

That way, you’ll be sure to take steps in the right direction - a direction you will one day be proud of inshaAllah, not one that will lead to guilt and regret.

Know that your mistakes are not you.

You can be an amazing person even if you did something so wrong. The mistake is the problem, not you.

2. Practice self compassion

To me, self compassion means two things: being your own best friend, and giving yourself the permission to be human.

Be compassionate towards yourself just as you would if it were your best friend in your situation.

You know those nice and encouraging words you'd say to your best friend if she told you she would never forgive herself? Say them to yourself now because you need you to support you through this.

Be understanding of yourself and notice your self-talk. As much as possible, try to be your own support system. Again, without judging yourself.

Remember you’re human and that you too make mistakes.

3. Rectify the situation

If there’s anything you can do to fix up your mistake, go for it. That’s courage. Either speak up and rectify the situation by speaking to the one you hurt, or writing about it in your journal. Promise yourself you’re not going to do it again (make sure this is a promise you will keep).

What can you do to make it better? Sometimes, the only answer is to never do it again.

4. Ask Allah to forgive you

Allah Himself tell us that He forgives all sins, so ask Him to forgive you and to help you move on.

I remember once I wasn’t happy with myself for a silly mistake I made, and for some reason I couldn’t get it off my mind. I kept judging myself and drowning in negative self-talk. I knew that the damage was done already and that I couldn’t undo it, but I was tired of always replaying that one mistake in my head all the time!

So I asked Allah to forgive me and to help me FORGET it entirely. And I honestly feel lighter about that mistake now. It doesn’t haunt me like it used to, alhamdulillah!

Allah is ready to respond to whatever it is that we ask of Him, no matter how big/small we think it is.

5. Write a letter of apology to yourself

This is by far one of the most effective ways to forgive yourself.

I know there’s a lot of benefit that comes with writing, but I don’t know what it is that makes writing an apology letter so, so helpful!

All you need is good ol’ pen and paper, and a quite space.

If I were to write an apology letter to my past self today, it would be along these lines:

I’m sorry for the times I didn’t believe in you and had higher-than-necessary expectations of you.

I’m sorry for all the lack of confidence in you, and the years of low self esteem.

I’m sorry for all the people-pleasing and the trying too hard to fit in.

I’m sorry for all the laziness and procrastination, and all the time that I’ve wasted.

I'm sorry for letting others take advantage of you and walk all over you.

I’m sorry for trusting way too easily and loving way too hard.

I’m sorry for not taking better care of you and for making wrong choices.

I’m sorry for letting others’ opinions define you and bring you down.

I’m sorry for not thinking through before acting or speaking.

I’m sorry for hurting others, knowingly and unknowingly.

I would read and re-read this, until I feel that I’m actually not the same person who caused myself all the pain, and that I’ve grown now ready to try my best to be better.

I would read and re-read this, until I am able to say the following words to myself and mean them: To my past self, I forgive you. Love, me.

Forgiving oneself isn’t always a one-time thing. It may take years for some people to make peace with their past. And it’s ok if that’s the case for you.

The one thing that self-forgiveness needs is commitment. If you decide that you’re ready to forgive yourself, keep going. Even if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, still keep going. Keep being lenient with yourself, but this leniency needs intentionality.

Forgive yourself for the right reasons, not so that you can fall back into the mistakes you made in the past.

Forgive yourself because you respect yourself.

Forgive yourself because you're ready to make amends.

Forgive yourself because you’re ready to move on, feel free, and live your life as the best version of yourself.

But what if you try and try, but unintentionally keep falling back to your old, unacceptable ways?

Well, just like with many other things, at some point you may have to re-strategize.

Could it be that you need more than just a self-forgiveness exercise? Do you need to open up or seek professional help? Do you need to actively focus some more on it, perhaps in the form of du’a and tahajjud? Will some form of accountability help you?

Self-forgiveness will look different for everyone. For some, it’s a simple step, but for others, it’s a multi-step process. As much as you can, find what works for you and just keep going. Sometimes you just need to put in that next step of effort and Allah will make it easier for you. Just keep going <3

May Allah forgive us all. Ameen.

Action Plan

1. Write yourself a forgiveness letter. Set a date and time for this exercise (that quiet time post-fajr is gold). Writing a letter of apology to yourself may be uncomfortable, but try as much as you can to sit with the discomfort. If it gets too uncomfortable, of course you may take a break. Don’t force it.

Try it out and see if it works for you.

2. Here’s a useful printable for you to download. You may refer to it as a reminder that you’re ready to commit to this self-forgiveness.