Jamie Grill—Getty Images/Blend Images
By Dan Kedmey
May 14, 2014
TIME Health
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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.

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