TIME Mental Health/Psychology

The Secret to Forgiving Yourself

482143483
Jamie Grill—Getty Images/Blend Images

The surest way out of a guilt trip is to fess up and make amends. Then you can really 'Let It Go'

A new study suggests that in order to forgive yourself, first you need to be forgiven by others.

Researchers at Baylor University surveyed 269 guilt-wracked subjects to recall past offenses. They told stories of gossiping, cheating and inflicting physical harm, among other guilt trips.

They were then asked how much they had forgiven themselves. A striking difference emerged between the participants. Those who had confessed to doing wrong and begged forgiveness from the wronged party were more likely to feel a “moral right” to forgive themselves.

Those who had kept their turmoil pent up in their heads reported feeling less of a moral right to forgive themselves, a state of mind which in the long run can contribute to depression and a weakened immune system.

“Our study found that making amends gives us permission to let go,” said researcher Thomas Carpenter.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser