I don’t mind confessing my deepest imperfections in hopes that another person may relate and not feel so alone in their boat with holes. I am full of holes and flaws, and they make me a more humble and genuine person. I’m not ashamed to admit that I made a mistake, and you shouldn’t be either.
Sure, our mistakes can cause us to feel hurt and humiliated, but they’re a learning experience to grow from. We can’t change or erase the past, so we may as well plant seeds in our crap and allow something wonderful to bloom from it.
So recently I messed up big time. This is not surprising to me, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. I keep going over the events again and again in my mind, obsessively pinpointing all of my fatal missteps that left me feeling so empty and frustrated. Oh why didn’t I do xyz differently?! Yet life doesn’t give us any do-over’s; I will never be able to erase or rewind that moment. I’m sure there are lots of people in this holey boat of mine, so here’s my advice for continuing onward when you feel like you’re choking on your own regret.
Write a letter! We never mean to make mistakes, and a poor outcome usually goes against the grain of our good intentions. The first step is coming clean. Maybe you smoked that cigarette you weren’t supposed to, or had a drink you swore you’d never touch again, or said something unnecessary and passive aggressive when you knew better. Address your letter to that thing or that person or that situation. In the first part of the letter confess everything you know you did wrong. Take ownership for your actions, no matter how unintentional they were.
In the second part of the letter make a list of every reason why that thing or person or situation is no longer a healthy influence for you. Why does it no longer serve a purpose in the stellar life you’re trying to lead, and why are you better off without it? Then hold onto that letter and re-read it any time you need to keep yourself in check.
After you’ve wiped your slate clean, the next step is to forgive yourself. You’ve already fessed up, so you have to release the guilt of an unchangeable experience. Some people may find taking ownership to be the hardest part, and it’s certainly not easy to admit our faults, but I have the most difficulty letting myself off the hook.
I like to think I’m a smart girl, and when a smart girl does a dumb thing boy does she make sure she’s punished for it. I have no problem taking extra heaping helpings of guilt and blame. In fact, I tell myself it’s “what I deserve” to “learn my lesson” (pretty messed up, right?) Now tough love can have its place, but there’s no need for selftorture. Once you’re aware of the mistake all you can do is learn, grow, and continue to move forward.
They say “time heals all things,” and it’s true. After you’ve done all of the above that doesn’t mean that thing or person or situation won’t be the first thought in your head when you wake up or the last thought on your mind before bed. However, time has a way of dulling that intense clarity. In order to move on try filling your days with productive tasks. Sitting inside stressing, moping, obsessing, and torturing doesn’t do any good.
Try a new activity! Find something that gives you a sense of purpose; something that allows you to be defined beyond your mistakes. Most importantly, treat yourself with love and compassion.
Speak kindly to others and yourself. Human beings are seriously flawed creatures. No matter how hard we try to avoid messing up we are bound to flop somewhere down the line. As long as we aim to live consciously and gently then we leave ourselves the room to grow and change.