So this morning I was getting ready for work and my thoughts turned to this decision I made a few years ago, and it turned out (in hindsight) to be a huge career mistake which has delayed my progress, postponed my goals and dreams, and generally has taken me down a road I didn’t want to travel… and I felt (once again) really bad about myself, and stupid for making this mistake. Even when I ran through the reasons why, and the rationale I had at the time, it still causes me tension and angst that I did this. And there were other mistakes… I married that guy. I trusted that person whom I knew to be untrustworthy. You know, the usual. So then later today I was talking to a friend about a guy she had dated (dating is really not the right word, but it’s more ladylike) and he’s calling her again, and my advice to her was to put that guy and that situation in the “Things I have learned and don’t need to learn again, thank you very much” part of her journal, or heart or mind. And then I realized “oh – this applies to me too.” Epiphany. Doh!
So yeah, I figure that you, and I, and all our friends who are intelligent and humane and have good intentions, as well as compassion and a healthy sense of wanting to do the right thing for ourselves and others, we can look at those mistakes from the past, take the nugget of learning out, and then put the experience in the “things I have learned” box.” So you get to look at it, roll it around, squeeze the wisdom out, then throw out the empty peel. Go ahead – do it now.
Also, you can now stop thinking of yourself as: stupid, lame, ridiculous, evil, bad-tempered, lacking the sense that God gave watermelon, unable to control your impulses, etc. This bad decision – the Jagermeister, the wedding, the decision to move to the Valley, whatever – this decision happened in the past. You only knew what you knew then. Even if you vaguely felt at the time that this decision had a red flag, (ok, me too) you still went ahead with it, and here you are – older, wiser. You could still be living with the consequences, or not. You could suffer moments of regret and subsequent self-torture while driving, or trying to sleep, or whenever. My advice to myself (and to anyone who wants to take it) is to remember that ~
- it’s now in the past
- you can’t change it
- you can accept it and go forward
- you learned something
- if you really learned it you will probably make better decisions in the future
- you’re human, it’s ok to make mistakes (ok, this one may take me awhile to believe)
- put it in the “things I’ve learned” box and stop hitting yourself with it
It’s pretty refreshing, isn’t it? Maybe it will help you to write them down, in a column to the left entitled “Mistakes” and a column to the right entitled “What I learned.” Maybe just the realization that you have the power and the permission to put these things in the past will help. The cool part is, you get to stop feeling bad about this. You are now free to make new decisions. Whoo hoo!