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How To Forgive Yourself For Mistakes In A Relationship

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 135 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Happy to have you here today, everyone. We’re going to be looking at how to forgive yourself today via a question sent in by a listener who is having a hard time forgiving herself during the aftermath of a breakup. We’re going to help her navigate this problem and the general attachment struggles I feel are also attached to it. Let’s take a look and see if we can help her get back on her feet…

QUESTION: “How do we know whether we are indulging in self-love or self-pity? I still haven't forgiven myself for the mistakes I made in my past relationship and it seems like, I never would because I lost the love of my life, the one who gave my life an entirely new meaning.

When I actually adopted his way of life – “the healthy habits,” I lost him. I don't know how to release all of these pent-up emotions. I write a daily journal, engage myself in sports, try to distract myself with as many things as I can but this feeling, these thoughts still persist.

I tried reaching out to him (4 months ago), but he didn't respond. I don't know how the communication between us stopped all of a sudden and what made him resent me so much. In 2 months, I am going to move to a new city and all I think of is whether I should contact him for one last time before leaving to just thank him for bringing so much value to my life.

Perhaps, I am still hoping for something but knowing that I conveyed my final goodbye, might leave me with no regrets. I don't know, what would be the right thing to do here – leave without saying a word or break the silence and approach again? What would you have done?”


Listen to Greg narrate this post on how to forgive yourself in Episode 135 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


Getting Your Power Back

Ok, thank you for that. A powerful, layered question that I have many thoughts about, so I’ll just dive right in.

I think that all of the struggles you’re facing right now – from the healthy habits you’re filling your days with currently to the move that’s coming in 2 months – all boil down to what you said at the beginning: “I lost the love of my life, the one who gave my life an entirely new meaning.”

It’s great that he introduced you to all these healthy habits, but can it not be left at that? Does him introducing you to those habits or the habits themselves have to signify more, or can they just be what they are?

The idea of him giving your life meaning removes all of the power you have, and all of your recovery is going to hinge you releasing this idea that he alone is responsible so much of the meaning your life has.

Forgive Yourself: You Are Your Own Person

And forgiving yourself is going to be extremely hard until you’re able to successfully detach the two – the two being him and your own meaning.

I’m not talking about forcing yourself to get over him (that never works), but acknowledging and living by the philosophy that you are your own person with your own value (AKA self-worth) aside from him, his presence and his contributions.

Dealing With Emotions

I believe it’s also time for you to start being as kind to the thoughts you’re trying to get rid of as the thoughts you’re trying to harvest – I’m talking about “pent-up emotions” you said you want to release.

If your objective has been to consciously distract yourself from these thoughts, they’re going to persist and grab a stronger hold of you because you’re not respecting them. You’re not allowing them their place, thereby making them more of a nuisance.

So to answer your initial question, as far as these distractions go – the tools you’re using to fill your time AKA the healthy habits he introduced you to – I’d say they’re good tools for self-love but maybe you’re using them for self-pity. Again, that’s a maybe.

I’m not sure I’d classify it as self-pity, but whatever the case may be, a part of you detaching from him is also detaching these new habits from him. No need to ignore the fact that he introduced you to them, but enjoy them for what they can do for you and leave it at that.

Self-Love vs. Self-Pity

Your parents probably taught you how to ride a bike, and now you just ride bikes. Bike riding is fun for you, and though you learned it from your parents, doesn’t mean it has to be forever intertwined with them.

The same could be said of any of the things he introduced to you. Journaling is good for you. You had to learn it somewhere, and you learned it from him.

It might be a little tender right now since this is all new, but the day will come when journaling is just journaling, rather than a symbol of your past relationship. It’s yours now, and it’s a part of your new journey forward.

No Contact

As for the resentment you feel he has for you, I wouldn’t necessarily bank on that unless he’s told you he resents you. It’s highly possibly that he just feels it’s healthier for both of you if there’s no contact. And should that be the case, I can’t really blame him.

The majority of relationship experts agree that maintaining no contact is a very healthy practice in the long run, even if it’s agonizing when the wound is still fresh. And even if he does hold resentment, well then those are feelings he needs to work out for himself, and you’re not a part of that process unless he asks you to be.

But regardless of whether it’s resentment or boundary setting that kept him from responding when you reached out 4 months ago, if I were a betting man, I’d say that your attempts to contact him then or to thank him once more before you move are both bred out of wanting something to be rekindled, so I’m proud of you for acknowledging that possibility in your final paragraph.

Forgive Yourself: Live Fully

Obviously there’s a sense of hope that’s on the other side of contacting him once more, a feeling of possibility which is ever so comforting right now. But it’s highly unlikely that such an interaction would make him want to come back, nor would it give you a sense of closure.

I’m sorry if that’s hard to hear right now, but again, there’s a lot more power to you than you’re currently unleashing, and even if he was a good partner, you can still thrive without him. But right now, you’ve tried reaching out, and for whatever reason, so far, he’s decided it’s best for him not to talk.

It’s his right to have that decision, and again, you’re capable of living fully in spite of it.

Keeping Separate From Your Ex

With that being said, even your upcoming departure is something I encourage you to work on keeping separate from him. You moving does not need to go through some screening process of making sure that he’s been notified and said goodbye to. Try to release that need. It will put you in a good rhythm and start you off on the right foot for living on your own terms and for yourself, something that’s especially prevalent as you start this new, personal chapter.

To close, I know that all of this may sound sensible yet still be hard to feel and act on. This, too, is ok. Sometimes we know what’s right, but we just need extra time to build the courage to pull the trigger on it. I’m highly guilty of this myself.

Forgive Yourself: Conclusion

So until the feelings follow more easily, just try forgiving yourself out loud and see how it feels. Try it every day even if it just takes a minute. List the things you feel you did wrong and forgive yourself out loud. Remind yourself that you couldn’t have done any better at the time. After all, none of us can ever act past our current levels of consciousness.

And on his part, maybe he could’ve been more patient with you, or maybe he couldn’t.

Either way, this is yet another great opportunity to separate yourself as your own entity and be better equipped for when your next relationship comes around. And it will.

All right everyone, that wraps us up. To the woman who sent this in on how to forgive yourself, I appreciate it and I thank you. I also wish you well in recovering the parts of yourself that you’ve maybe lost, and I’m excited for your journey ahead – both spiritually and geographically! Good luck with the move!

To everyone else out there, you know the drill. If you’re struggling with something that you’d like my help with on the show, please email your question to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com

We’ll take your question there, send you a written transcript if you’d like one, and do our best. Ok, everybody. Thanks so much for being here, hope you come back for the next one, and I’ll see ya there. Take care guys.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on how to forgive yourself in Episode 135 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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