Forgiving yourself can feel impossible. But here's a proven way to do it.

Most of us are our own worst critics. We bully ourselves when we fall short of perfection, carry around past regrets, and refuse to let ourselves off the hook for any transgressions.

Unless this cycle is stopped, it can lead to persistent self-inflicted suffering. Studies show that those who have a hard time forgiving themselves are more likely to experience heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, and addiction.

Fred Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, told Prevention there are four things that are hardest for people to forgive themselves for:


  • You fail at some major life task such as making your marriage work.
  • Your actions have hurt someone else.
  • You've hurt yourself by the way you've led your life: drinking or doing something else that's self-destructive.
  • You didn't do something you thought you should, such as intervene in a family dispute or put money away so your kid can go to college.

Some of us take those bad feelings and wrap them around ourselves like a blanket of pain, instead of taking responsibility and making things right.

"Forgiveness is a tool with which we face what we've done in the past, acknowledge our mistakes, and move on. It does not mean that you condone or excuse what happened. It does not mean that you forget," says Luskin.

"There's a season for our suffering and regret. We have to have that. But the season ends; the world moves on. And we need to move on with it," Luskin adds.

Luskin has a process that can help people go from feeling wounded to grateful.

via Pixabay


1. Understand the offense and your feelings

Take another look at the four things that are hardest to forgive ourselves for and see where your behavior falls on the list. "Categorizing the offense begins the forgiveness process," he says. "It allows you to break down what you did, look at it, get a little distance, and begin healing."

Once you are able to articulate the offense and the damage it caused others, share it with a few trusted friends. Confiding in others can be a positive reminder that we all make mistakes. It also prevents you from slipping into denial.

You should also reconsider if what you did was really that bad in the first place. Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations for our own behavior which can lead to feelings of guilt when, in reality, our behavior was appropriate given the circumstances.

2. How do you want to feel?

How do you want to feel after you've found forgiveness? Luskin says you should want to get rid of the "shame, release the blame, and feel calm and whole at your center."

3. Hit stop on your thoughts and emotions

Realize that the feelings you are carrying around are what's making you feel terrible, not what you did all those days, months, or years ago. When you start ruminating on the event that brings you guilt, pause and refocus your attention on something positive.

A great way to do that is to focus on a good deed you may have done recently or how you've changed since the event took place.

Luskin also recommends trying PERT (Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique). Close your eyes, draw in a long breath, then slowly exhale as you relax your belly. Take a deep breath two more times and on the third one, create a mental image of a beautiful place in nature.

Breathe deeply as your mind explores the beauty around you, whether it's a beach, mountain top, or the calming waters of a stream. Allow the positive feelings you create to center around your heart.

For more on what science says about the benefits of forgiveness, click here.

via Pixabay


4. Apologize and make amends

Being forgiven by someone else can help us forgive ourselves. Making a sincere apology to someone affected by your actions can go a long way towards helping you heal yourself.

Next, you can try to right the wrong by making amends to the person you hurt. "Do good rather than feel bad," Luskin says.

5. Reframe your behavior

Instead of thinking about the event and casting yourself as the bad guy, look at the entirety of the situation and recast yourself as the hero. When you tell yourself the story of what happened, be sure to consider how you've overcome a failure and turned it into something good. Focus on what you've learned from going through the ordeal and give yourself credit for how you've changed.

6. Replace guilt with gratitude

Finally, replace your negative feelings of guilt with positive feelings of gratitude. Look around and appreciate all that you have, whether it's the breath in your lungs, the shoes on your feet, or the people you love in your life.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can extinguish any lingering feelings of guilt and shame and put you back on the path of loving yourself again.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

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