We’ve all made mistakes that we regret. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, you can use them as learning experiences. You can’t change the past but can control it’s meaning. (Estimated reading time: 3-4 minutes)
“Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted..”— Marilyn Monroe
If you look up the meaning of the word “mistake”, this is what you’ll find:
1. An error or fault resulting from defective judgement, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.
2. A misconception or misunderstanding.
When I read these definitions, I feel an instant sense of uneasiness. It’s no wonder that most of us have grown up believing that we need to avoid making mistakes like the plague.
We’re conditioned from an early age to “do things correctly” and to not “mess up”. If you were lucky, you had parents and teachers who taught this to you, in a nurturing way that preserved your sense of self-worth. While others may have had to endure criticism, shame, and sometimes abuse.
No matter how we were taught, as members of the global community, we have to be aware of the basic rules and social norms required to be a good citizen. This is especially more important in high-risk situations where a mistake could potentially result in a big price to pay.
A simple error in judgment can lead to painful consequences that we sometimes cannot undo. Speak to anyone who is in prison or on death row and they will confirm this.
However, all mistakes aren’t created equal. When it comes to achieving our goals and objectives, I believe that making mistakes is a good thing and an integral part of making progress towards our achievement.
We’re all born with a blank slate and will follow learning curves in all areas of our lives. If we’re overly cautious, we could potentially miss out on valuable learning experiences that are part of the discovery and character-building process.
Just as the ancient rocks in a canyon had to be smoothened out by a river to form magnificent structures, we need to allow the flow of experiences to shape our character.
This might be tough to accept if you’ve made decisions that you perceive as mistakes. Letting go of a sweetheart, not changing a habit that cost you your health, accumulating bad debt, for example.
I still have moments when I have to tend to old wounds that come from my regrets, but I’ve found the process easier to deal with when I saw those mistakes as lessons and stepping stones towards achieving my goals.
You can’t change what happened in the past but you have the power to interpret it in a way that serves you in the present moment. Remember that you did the best you could, based on the aptitude, knowledge and consciousness you had at that given moment.
Here are three mistakes you shouldn’t regret and making (and why):
1. You fell in love with the wrong person: I realize how painful heartbreak can be, so this one may be a tough one to understand. Having made this mistake myself, I can tell you that even though it did hurt, this loss not only made me a more compassionate person, but I also learned about my capacity to care and feel for another human being.
2. You quit a high-paying but dead-end job: A lot of people are tempted by the allure of a glamorous profession that pays well even it doesn’t feed your spirit. Being in a career that does not fulfill you, will eventually force you to face the truth of your situation so that you can align your life with your passions and talents. Only when you face the pain of dissatisfaction will you be willing to take a leap of faith and change your circumstances.
3. You said “no” to someone: Our inner circle of friends and family is often filled with moochers and people who do not respect our boundaries. These are people who I call “energy vampires”, make unreasonable requests on your time and may even deceive you. They manipulate, gaslight and give you guilt-trips to make you give into their requests. If you were brave enough to stand up for yourself and cut them out of your life, its a decision you shouldn’t regret because what you did was an act of self-care.
The best part about embracing your past experiences, good or bad, is that you can use your wisdom to educate and heal other people who are in search of guidance. You transmute your pain into purpose.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Are there any regrets that you need to make peace with? What initial steps can you take to let go of your attachment to these regrets?
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