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.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.