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Why self-forgiveness is so important during lockdown

During lockdown, we may feel pressure to do certain things or be a certain way, but it's important to be patient with ourselves. That's why self-forgiveness is so important, says Emma, 18.

For years, I have been told that I need to find a way to love myself - daunting, as it’s something that has always seemed nearly impossible to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here today to tell you all that I have cracked the code and that self-love is one simple step away, but I do believe that I have found something that makes it an awful lot easier: self-forgiveness.

What is self-forgiveness and what does it mean to me?

Quarantine has taught me, surprisingly, more than the importance of staying at home (which is of course crucial). It has reminded me to be kind to myself and to forgive myself for things I might normally be angry at myself for.

As I write this, it’s the fourth week of the national lockdown and I’m beginning to adjust to my new way of life. It has been recommended time and time again that we try to create some sense of routine during this uncertain time but, I confess, I am still struggling to develop a routine that I am fully pleased with.

I wake up at around 9am, often not rolling out of bed until any time up to 1pm. When I do get up, I berate myself – I tell myself that I have wasted my day, even though I have done something immense even by just getting out of bed. A lot of days, I wake up and struggle to even convince myself to go downstairs and get dressed. This may not be ideal, but beating myself up about it doesn’t help anyone.

A lot of days, I wake up and struggle to even convince myself to go downstairs and get dressed. This may not be ideal, but beating myself up about it doesn’t help anyone.

So, I am working on forgiving myself more and telling myself that it is ok for me to wake up late, not do my skincare routine, spend a bit too much time on technology, not stick to my diet and not do half as much exercise as I would have liked to.

I have always held myself to ridiculous standards, and as I reach the end of my teenage years, I realise that doing that is exhausting. There is an important balance in being proud of myself when I do something – anything – and not being self-deprecating when I don’t manage some things.

That’s why I think it’s so important to be proud of the small victories, whatever they look like for you. For me, it is me knitting a square towards my patchwork blanket (my quarantine project). It is me eating a healthy lunch. It is using my designated exercise to take a walk that tackles the numbness a little.

Most importantly, it is allowing bad mental health days in all of their stormy chaos. It is being proud of myself for weathering the day. Full stop. No ifs, no buts. Just proud that I am.

I think it’s so important to be proud of the small victories, whatever they look like for you.

What are the secrets to self-forgiveness?

I did some thinking and compiled my top three bits of advice that allow me to forgive myself on even the toughest days:

  1. My number one point that I try to never forget, and if you only take one thing away from this post, I encourage it to be this – I am human. As are you. I make as many bad choices as I do good ones. I cried at a chip advert once. I also laugh at things that aren’t funny by any definition. The point being that as a human, I’m not perfect – and that’s ok.
  2. I don’t have to wait until tomorrow to begin again and make a fresh start. I can decide to change at any given moment.
  3. I try to do whatever feels right in the moment. More importantly, I forgive myself if it may turn out to be a bad decision and do whatever is needed to correct it.

What do other people see self-forgiveness as?

I asked a few of my friends what they think self-forgiveness is and quickly a theme emerged: as humans, we all make mistakes, and we cannot blame ourselves for being human. Life is unpredictable and things may go wrong; all we can do is accept that, try to fix things if we can, but understand that even if we can’t, we still deserve forgiveness – and the place to start is with forgiving ourselves.

 

Author: Emma, 18

Where to get help

If you are struggling with your mental health, or are worried about somebody else who is, take a look at our find help page for information, tips and suggestions of where you can get help.

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