Why You Must Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes and Failures

September 13, 2023 Mahevash Shaikh

I thought about self-forgiveness recently. I celebrated my birthday towards the end of last month -- and around this time, I heard Miley Cyrus's latest song titled "Used To Be Young." It resonated with me because birthdays make me think of the past and what the future has in store for me. While listening to Miley's beautiful song on repeat, I couldn't help but ask myself: Have I forgiven myself for all the mistakes and failures of my past? 

Forgiving Yourself for Past Mistakes and Failures Matters

I think forgiveness has multiple mental health benefits. I have noticed that whenever I forgive someone for anything, my mind feels lighter, calmer, and more present in the here and now.

Unfortunately, I have found that forgiving myself is tougher than forgiving others because, like most people, I am the hardest on myself. However, this does not mean self-forgiveness is not possible. Plus, it is crucial to let go of past mistakes and failures and move forward with renewed hope and purpose. 

When you don't forgive yourself, a part of you stays stuck in the past, ruminating about what you could have done to avoid a mistake or failure. Nobody can go back and change their past, so why revisit it? Rumination is not only a waste of time, but it also makes you feel bad about yourself. What's done is done, so we might as well accept it and move on. 

Self-Forgiveness Is Key to Self-Improvement

To become a better version of yourself in all areas of life, you must forgive yourself for mistakes and failures. You can accept the past, learn from mistakes and failures, and move on only after you forgive yourself. Giving yourself the space to forgive and forget is crucial to self-improvement. After all, the past doesn't define who you are today, and it certainly doesn't define who you will be tomorrow. 

So, let's look back on our younger selves with kindness and respect instead of shame and regret. We didn't know what we were doing back then and only did the best we could. Adopting the "Used To Be Young" mindset can help us love ourselves because to quote Cyrus,

"this song is about honoring who we've been, loving who we are, and celebrating who we will become."1

I am grateful she released this iconic song for us, her loyal fans, many of whom grew up with her. She has shown us a way to love ourselves, warts and all. 


  1. Irvin, J. (2023, August 25). Miley Cyrus sheds tears and reflects on her partying days in emotional new 'Used to Be Young' music video. Peoplemag.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2023, September 13). Why You Must Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes and Failures, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

September, 14 2023 at 1:22 am

Hey! Fellow Smiler here :) The song is absolutely iconic! And love your post. Can't move on until we let go of the past.

September, 13 2023 at 9:11 am

Most people are hard on themselves. Living or surviving in today's world is hard if you're a naive or good-natured person, somehow feeling only evil prevails.
And in that we keep reminiscing and regretting our past mistakes, taking all this burden every day on our souls.
No wonder it becomes a stressful life and hard to cope with issues.
I hope all going through this find the strength to overcome this.

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