Self-forgiveness takes place on two different levels.
The first level is practical and straight-forward.
The second requires a very subtle and secret kind of effort, which is worthwhile understanding, because the process is extraordinary and far more permanent.
The Practical Effort
On the first level of effort, the first step is to realize that you have made a mistake. It is not a case- as it is in forgiving others- of simply forgetting the mistake!
To think that you can simply forget your mistakes and everything will be okay is to be careless.
Instead, there needs to be realization about the seriousness of your mistake.
No matter how small other people may consider them to be, it is good to consider even your small mistakes to be big ones.
The true dignity and reality of the self does not allow for anything less.
If you have honestly realized your mistake, but your mind continues to go over and over it, to no avail, consider this a sign that you now need to forgive yourself.
Another sign is when, having realized the mistake, the soul is flooded with feelings of guilt, accompanied by an unstoppable flow of unnecessary thoughts.
Why feel guilty?
Learning how to forgive yourself is a much better use of your time.
Finally, be careful about remaining too much on your own.
This can emerge a lot of old, internal patterns and thoughts will again begin to circle uselessly over and over in your mind.
With these signs alerting you to need for self-forgiveness, the next step is to understand what to do.
On the first, practical level of self-forgiveness, it is a question of using your spiritual training to discover new ways of looking at the situation.
Injecting your spirituality into a mistake creates freshness. You get a new hold on the present, which enables you to let go of the past.
There is a new enthusiasm for doing things the right way.
The thought is, ‘OK, it’s over now. Let me move on.’
This produces hope for the soul and renewed feelings of interest for the task of self-transformation.
Doing it Right
If feelings of guilt are the problem, what you need to do is engage yourself in better things.
After realizing your mistake, there is no need to go on punishing yourself.
Involving yourself instead in good actions will not only erase a mistake, it will also replace it with a higher, more honest, inner programming.
It’s just like recording an audio-cassette.
If you’ve taped something poorly, and the recording isn’t good, you wouldn’t spend a lot of time crying about it. You would simply re-record over the mistake.
In the same way, instead of losing sleep over whatever wrong you have done, get busy instead in doing something right.
This is what allows you to put the past to rest, once and for all.
– Jewels from Dadi Janki