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.