Don't Judge Yourself on Your Past, You No Longer Live There

How many times have you regretted your past actions and decisions? In this article, we tell you how that kind of regret can affect the rest of your life.
Don't Judge Yourself on Your Past, You No Longer Live There

Last update: 17 August, 2021

How many times a day do you think about the past? How much time do you spend analyzing what you did, what you didn’t do, or what you could’ve done better? Above all, how much destructive criticism do you include in your thoughts about a time that no longer exists? This isn’t healthy. Indeed, stop judging yourself on your past, because you don’t live there anymore.

You’re probably in the habit of frequently reminiscing about your past experiences, actions, and decisions. However, unfortunately, you won’t tend to do it in a kind way. Instead, more often than not, you probably adopt an extremely ruthless perspective. As a matter of fact, everyone scrutinizes their pasts with a magnifying glass. Furthermore, you highlight each and every one of your failures through a cruel and unrealistic filter of perfectionism.

Why don’t you have more compassion for yourself? Well, the reality is, that you’re not really aware of the damage you’re doing to yourself. You tend to think that by critically analyzing your past you’re learning something from it. You probably believe that by constantly regretting or blaming yourself for what happened you’re paying off some kind of outstanding debt. However, you’ll start to learn a great deal more when you stop judging your past self and reconcile yourself to it.

Don’t judge yourself on your past

A sad woman, showing you shouldn't judge yourself on your past.

Don’t blame yourself

Guilt is your ego’s most powerful tool. Indeed, it keeps you anchored in the past. You might feel guilty for hurting someone, or for allowing yourself to be hurt, or for not making better decisions. You continually wonder how you could’ve acted in certain situations, and reproach yourself for not having done better.

However, before falling into the trap of guilt, always remember that you did the best you could at the time. Indeed, you couldn’t have acted any differently with the knowledge you had back then. What you did was the only thing you could do with what you knew at the time, who you were, and the circumstances you found yourself in.

Now, with hindsight and experience, of course, it’d be easy for you to find alternatives. However, clarity always comes after learning, not before.

As a matter of fact, if you’re now able to see the past from another angle, that’s due to your previous mistakes. For this reason, you should celebrate your awareness. Under no circumstances should you fall into the trap of blaming yourself. Because today you know what you didn’t know then, and at the time you did what you could.

Don’t regret your past

Regret is another emotion that holds you captive. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to experience regret if you harmed someone, or even yourself, as long as you follow on from it with the appropriate action. In other words, ask for forgiveness, make amends for the damage, and learn from it.

There’s never any use in denying that something happened. Furthermore, don’t invest any energy in getting frustrated and wishing it’d never happened. You can’t change it. Instead, remember that all those experiences have given you lessons. In fact, they’ve made you who you are today. It’s your story, it includes all those mistakes and failures that have brought you here. Therefore, be grateful for what you’ve learned and move on.

Don’t condemn yourself

Finally, keep in mind that every day you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. That’s because your past doesn’t define who you are today. Furthermore, if you made a mistake, it doesn’t make you a failure or a bad person.

Did you try but fail? That doesn’t mean that you’ll fail again. If in the past, you were selfish or unable to set limits, it doesn’t mean it’s in your nature and can’t be changed. Stop defining and condemning yourself for who you were. Don’t judge yourself for a past you no longer live in.

Woman looking at reflection in mirror

Don’t judge yourself, reconcile with yourself

Ultimately, it’s time to view your past self with compassion. Without a doubt, at the time, you were hurt and you allowed it to happen. In all probability, if you could go back in time with the knowledge that you now possess, you’d change many of your past actions. However, you must forgive yourself, understand yourself, and look back kindly at your past self.

Remember that, above all, experiences are lessons and not sentences. Integrating your history and everything that happened in it is essential for you to feel free to create a new path for yourself. Guilt, remorse, and constant self-criticism tie you to those painful moments and condemn you to live permanently in a time that’s long since passed.

Reconcile with yourself and allow yourself to move on. You’re ready and able to be a different person. You no longer live in your past. Integrate it, learn from it, and continue with your life.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • De Rosa, L., Dalla Valle, A., Rutsztein, G., & Keegan, E. (2012). Perfeccionismo y autocrítica: consideraciones clínicas. Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica21(3), 209-215.
  • Maynar, M. A., & Germer, C. K. (2016). Autocompasión en Psicoterapia y el Programa Mindful Self Compassion:¿ Hacia las Terapias de Cuarta Generación?. Revista de Psicoterapia27(103), 169-185.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.