QUESTION: I keep making rash decisions and my habit with not being able to think before I speak has driven away so many people in my life, and I have so much remorse and regret in my heart. But the thing that is more destructive to my mindset and my soul is my inability to forgive myself for those mistakes; I’m more hard on myself than others are hard on me. What can I do?

ANSWER: This issue of forgiving yourself is important. Many of us are hard on ourselves and as you say, you can be harder on yourself than others are on you.  This is not a good place to be in.

You asked what you can do. I will try to help in this reply. Over my 70+ years of life I have had to learn lessons about forgiveness, too. Of course, you are free to accept or reject this advice. It is just my opinion, based on my experience.

If you know anything about God from reading The Urantia Book, you know that he is tenderly forgiving of us. In fact, his forgiveness of us is one of the ways that God welcomes us into the kingdom of heaven. Though we may enter the kingdom through our act of faith, forgiveness is the act of God which accepts our faith.

In order to receive and actually experience God’s forgiveness, we have to forgive others. But we can’t really forgive them unless we truly love them the same as we love ourselves. And this is why accepting your forgiveness from God is so important; it allows you to truly love and forgive yourself, first. Why? Because God forgives you and loves you. Please don’t reject his forgiveness. Doing so will make your life harder than it needs to be.

Read more here about God’s forgiveness.

Consider forgiving all those who have turned you out of their lives because of something you did or said. Maybe you have to completely let all of that go and just allow what is, to be as it is.

Forgive them all, forgive yourself, and make a u-turn in your own life so that your future relations with people are better than they have been in the past. Stop obsessing about your past failures and take a new and hopeful path, knowing that you are a forgiven son of God, worthy of living in the kingdom of heaven.

It’s possible that you could make amends to everyone you have driven away; these amends could be in the form of a phone call, an email, a letter, or a personal visit. But making amends like this means that you have to change your behaviors and your habit of rash speaking. Otherwise, it will ring hollow.

Maybe people who are important to you need to know that you understand why they avoid you, but that you are making a sincere effort to change your ways. Start with just one person. Let them know you are sincerely sorry for offending them (be specific), and also let them know that you are making a sincere effort to change your behavior so that it does not happen again. You may find that an approach like this will yield surprising and happy results, and they will be more than ready to forgive you. But it’s important to follow-up and actually do something to change your behavior. Make a plan.

If you read The Urantia Book, you will recall that you carry a spark of God himself within you; God is as near as a thought. Knowing this, you can form a new habit which could be as easy as always pause before responding to another person, no matter what they might have said to cause a quick reaction in you. Before speaking, pause and take a breath or two. And in that pause, go within yourself and ask God to help you say the right thing in that moment. Even before you meet with anyone, you can ask God to go before you and make your way with others smooth and blameless. This new habit will eventually push the old one out of the way.

You can begin practicing immediately, with the next person you talk to. Practice it until it becomes second nature, and certainly practice it when making amends to those you have wronged in any way.

Thanks again for writing. I hope my reply is helpful.