Home » Blogs » Mentoring and Recovery » Relearning Self-Forgiveness

Relearning Self-Forgiveness

My beautiful parrot, Pearl, pretending he is going to fly away.
My beautiful parrot, Pearl, pretending he is going to fly away (even though we both know full well he can’t fly).

A few weeks back I posted about my journey towards releasing false self-esteem.

I really loved reading your comments on this post – thank you!

As part of my work to release false self-esteem, I have discovered I also need to re-learn how to forgive myself.

To start with, I am noticing some things are easier to forgive myself for than other things.

For example, right or wrong, it would seem I can forgive myself for transgressions against myself without even breathing hard. (“Oh, it was only me who got hurt – oh, well, then, no big deal!”)

More challenging is to forgive myself for transgressions – accidental or otherwise – against others (in order of difficulty – most to least: family, friends, acquaintances, total strangers).

Nearly impossible is forgiving myself for any transgression that may have put an innocent (my pets, any animal, a child) in harm’s way.

Yet in this new “re-learning self-forgiveness regimen,” forgiving myself for all of the above is not optional.

If I am going to learn – I mean really learn – to forgive myself, I can’t just do the easy ones and call it a lesson learned. I have to be able to forgive myself no matter what.


Here is an example of particularly challenging one I’m working on now:

The other day I was on the phone with my best friend. She was in tears – I had taken care of her during her eye surgery, and she was telling me she had been taking her eye drops in the wrong order. I was the one who was in charge of reading the directions and organizing her drops. While we were talking, my parrot started screaming. He was very loud, but my friend was very upset, so I ignored him. He screamed for at least 10 minutes (probably longer) before I went to check on him. When I did, I discovered he was on the floor and unable to get back to his cage (he can’t fly so if he ends up on the floor he needs me to help lift him back up to safety).

So here, there are two main areas where I need to forgive myself:

  • The eye drops oops.
  • The parrot rescue oops.

Where I’m at with the eye drops oops

My best friend tells me it was the doctor’s instructions that were faulty, not my organization. I want to believe her (but I don’t since I know she doesn’t want me to blame myself). Everyone I have talked to tells me it wasn’t my fault (I don’t believe them either). Yet I DO know I did my best with the information as I thought I understood it at the time. I feel a bit guilty telling myself this, but it IS the truth (still feel guilty). So I return again and again to what my mentor always tells me, which is that it is senseless to try to change what can’t be changed and much more sensible to forgive myself and move forward (and make every effort to do better next time).

RESULT: I am beginning to feel genuine self-forgiveness and peace around this issue. I did the best I could have done at the time, knowing zilch about eyes or caring for someone after surgery, and much as I might wish otherwise, the truth is I can’t do anything about it now. Best to forgive myself and use the extra energy to do better next time.

Where I’m at with the parrot rescue oops:

Nowhere good. Every time I look at Pearl’s sweet little face and think of him stranded on the floor, unable to fly and calling for me, and me not coming, this huge sadness arises. He forgave me 1 second after I rescued him (and hasn’t thought of it since). And this morning when the same thing happened I heard him right away and rushed in and rescued him right away. Yet I can’t help but hear this voice in my head telling me that THIS is what I will remember when he passes….all the things I didn’t do when he needed me. Remembering that my best friend was crying and I was trying to give her my undivided attention on the phone doesn’t really help much. Knowing that Pearl instantly forgave me AND forgot the whole incident also isn’t helping.

RESULT: I am still working on this one. But here, because the lapse is clearly bringing up some deeper emotions and perhaps buried personal memories for me, it is also clear more self-work is needed, and so I am returning to my releasing false self-esteem work to try to release those held, stuck emotions (even if I can’t remember the exact situations that triggered them or explain to myself why I still feel such strong emotion). After I finish there, I will keep returning to try again to forgive myself….until I can.

In this, I must admit I could be reading all kinds of self-help books for mentoring, but since I have decided 2015 is “The Year of Living Intuitively,” I am choosing to turn within for guidance instead.

This is because I want to meet my own inner wisdom.

I want to learn what I already know and find out what skills I have already learned.

And I want to see if my inner guide is awake and aware, and (if so) how trustworthy and reliable she is.

So far, she and I are learning to be honest with each other about what’s really going on, and that feels like a good place to start.

Today’s Takeaway: Are there areas or events in your life where you find yourself struggling to offer yourself forgiveness? What makes this easier for you to do? I’d love to hear your insights! 


Relearning Self-Forgiveness

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

2 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Relearning Self-Forgiveness. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.