Give Yourself a Break Today: Forgiving Yourself is Part of Self-improvement

Self-improvement focuses on strengths and weaknesses.

Give yourself a break today! Jim Harrison writes in his autobiography, "The over-examined life is not worth living." If you spend too much time trying to concentrate on improving yourself, the end result could be frustration and depression. Part of being human is having weaknesses, but each one of us also has strengths. Real self-improvement does not mean focusing all of your energy on trying to make yourself better. Real self-improvement balances true knowledge of both strengths and weaknesses.

Too often, people concentrate on should-haves. I should have said, I should have done, etc. This focus will keep you stuck in the past and focusing on your mistakes. Everyone makes them, but each one of us has to learn to accept our mistakes, forgive ourselves and move forward.

Acceptance is the first step in improvement of one's self. For a lot of people, it is far easier to accept their flaws, and not as easy to find the good in ourselves. However, each of us must learn to accept our good points. If you have a hard time with compliments, then you are focusing on your weaknesses instead of acknowledging that even you have strengths. Work on writing out a list of your strengths, and you might find that you don't really need to improve as much as you may have thought.

As hard as acceptance of both good and bad may be, forgiving one's self for shortcomings can be a far bigger challenge. Many of us find it easier to forgive others than ourselves, but then we are stuck in the trap of perfectionism. Not one of us is perfect, and constantly striving for or beating ourselves up for not  being perfect is self-defeating. Yes, you have made mistakes, but does it do you any good to keep rehashing that moment? Try looking yourself in the eyes in the mirror and saying, "I forgive you!" Really mean it, too, because you are just as human as other people.

Another way to help you improve and accept yourself is to write out self-affirmations. Put these in different areas of your home where you will read them everyday. Simple things like: "I am loveable." "I am a good person." "I am worthy."

Moving forward is very important, and constantly trying to improve yourself can hold you back. Too much focus on improvement is like all work and no play! Self-improvement is a learning experience, and it is also something that will not happen overnight. The more we live, the more we learn--about ourselves and others. We each play a part in our lives, but not all of the fault or blame is ours alone. We cannot change others, but learning to accept and forgive ourselves can help us change the way we let others' actions affect us.

So give yourself that break today, and stop focusing on your shortcomings. We each have room for improvement, but we should not spend too much time on our failures. After all-not one of us can go backwards and change the past!

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Thomas Gordon
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