How to Forgive Himself?

Q: I've been having memories haunt me lately of the things I've done in the past. I'm so ashamed about them and have asked forgiveness but they keep flashing back. My question is, how do I forgive myself and live my days without having these memories bring me down? I think I need a psychiatrist. It's really starting to depress me. -- Tim, 24

Dr. Susan: Ruminating about past actions that can't be changed is one of the thing people do when they're depressed. And it only makes them more depressed. Seeing a therapist, a doctor, or a psychiatrist would be something to try, even if only to explore whether your shaming memories are getting way out of hand. You may not yet grasp that just about everyone has stuff in their pasts that they wish they could make disappear. Maturity lies in finding a way to integrate that messy stuff with a more forward-looking version of yourself. We screw up, and hopefully we learn not to make the same mistakes again. Sometimes anti-depressants are prescribed to help a person stop worrying obsessively and begin living in real time again. I don't actually insist on "forgiving" myself for mistakes of the past. They're all learning experiences and part of being human. But do find someone to talk to. And good luck!

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