Posted by: jedwardswright | December 15, 2011

The Hardest Person to Forgive

Maybe you have been horribly hurt by someone in your life: a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a total stranger. Perhaps forgiving this person seems beyond your ability. Humanly speaking, it may be impossible, but with God’s help, you may be able to find your way to that place. I hope and pray that you can reach that point, because bitterness, like battery acid, corrodes the vessel that contains it. I know that I often have had a wound that I thought had healed re-opened, and I have to begin the process of forgiving over again. Letting go and letting God is not easy.

This post is not about that person. I have read many insightful stories and articles on the subject of forgiving others, but I have less often seen advice on absolving the hardest person of all to forgive: ourselves.

Depression, it is said, is anger turned inward. While we may seethe internally about injuries received from the outside, we are even more furious at the person inside for offenses we believe that we have committed, whether against ourselves or others. I am convinced that depressed people are more adept at beating up themselves than resenting those who hurt us.

Whether it is an action or a failure to act, a wrong decision that changed the course of our lives for the worse, a careless remark that hurt someone we love, or a self-abusive compulsion we continue to do, hating ourselves comes naturally to people with depression. We call ourselves ugly names, mourn our lack of insight or self-control, and generally tend to marinate our inner being in self-blame and feelings of hopelessness.

How do we get off this merry-go-round of repeated self-recrimination?

Admit that it is okay to make mistakes.

We are all too aware that we are not perfect, but we fail to acknowledge that we share that trait with 100% of the rest of the world. When we mess up, we need to remind ourselves that it is not only all right that we are human, it is inevitable.

Lower your standards.

Oh, this is a toughie! My demanding standards for myself have been instilled in me from the time I could toddle by parents who honestly believed that achievement would help make me happy, and while they weren’t entirely wrong, my perfectionism has caused me at least as much grief as pleasure.

It is acceptable to be mediocre at some things. It is possible to be at peace with yourself and not be the most successful person in your graduating class, or even on your block. A few dust bunnies under the bed never killed anyone, and you are not the only parent to drive your kids to school in your jammies!

Practice Positive Affirmations

My very first post on A Darker Shade of Blue back in April of 2010 was called “Positive Affirmations.” In a nutshell, it is about how to change in a positive direction the way you talk to yourself. I have used this method personally, and I have had great feedback from others who have tried it too. Please check it out and see if it can work for you.

Recognize that you are living with a medical condition

We need to cut ourselves more slack, because being a person with a mental health condition like depression is no walk in the park, to put it mildly. All of us have had days when just getting out of bed and having a shower is a major accomplishment. All of us require more effort to do fewer things. Just because the outside world doesn’t always get it doesn’t mean we should beat ourselves up over it.

Above all we need to take care of ourselves, take our meds, and when things are feeling really tough, pamper ourselves a bit . Have that bubble bath or light a few candles or buy that book you’ve been meaning to read one of these days. Be nice to yourself.

Celebrate Small Victories

Hey, if for you getting the living room cleaned or that report in to work is a big deal, it is a big deal! Jump up and down and yell “Hurray!” or call someone who cares and tell them you are having a good day. Buy flowers for that coffee table as a perk for finding it underneath the pile, or have a glass of wine with dinner and toast yourself for your success.

Remember God Loves You

Even when it feels like no one else give a rat’s posterior, remind yourself that God loves you anyway, and He will forgive you if you ask Him, as well as helping you to forgive yourself. He doesn’t want you to keep kicking yourself, because you are precious to Him.

The hardest person to forgive is the one who needs your forgiveness the most: you. Say it out loud, “ I forgive myself, and I am going to let it go.” Repeat as needed.


  1. “Lower your standards” this one is the absolute hardest and most vital for me. It’s also the one that saved me. I am NOT Martha Stewart and do not have a staff to make it look like I am. So I have to stop acting like I am. But I wanted to be, and now that I’m well I want to make up for lost time by doing what I couldn’t – be Martha. It’s a vicious circle that will take me down that road again. And by ‘well’ I mean my head is above water, I still fight but I’m finally winning. I’ll always be fighting.

    • Word has it that Martha Stewart is not always a very pleasant person to be around, and that even her daughter had some choice words to say about Martha in a recent memoir. Whether that is true or not, I can imagine that the pressure to live up to the Martha Stewart legend must be incredibly intense for Martha herself and could have some very unfortunate side effects! Appearances can definitely be deceiving.
      Why is it that we always want to be someone we aren’t? I wonder who Martha would rather be? Hillary Clinton? Oprah Winfrey? Maybe Meryl Streep or J. K. Rowling?
      When I was a child I had a record with a little song on it that warbled over and over again ” Be yourself! You can’t be anybody else!” A lifetime later, I still need to repeat that message to myself.

  2. Awesome blog man! I just added this post to my Digg account. Keep it up!

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