We all make mistakes. It’s part of the legacy of being human. Sometimes we even get so caught up in blaming ourselves for “mistakes” that we lose sight of what the past really is – a path to our present self. If you’re caught up in the language and thought process of woulda, coulda, shoulda, it’s time to stop!
Go easy on yourself. Offer yourself the kind of unconditional love you give others, and you’ll be amazed at the healing and empowerment you’ll find.
If that isn’t enough reason for letting go of days (and ways) gone by, here are a few more:
It was right at the time
There may have been a career path you’d have chosen that would have made you a higher earner by now, but you would have missed out on all those adventures that made you you. You might not have stayed in that relationship had you known what you know now – but you didn’t. You knew you needed the love, the safety or the challenges you were getting there. Don’t sell your past self short. We make decisions based on our best guesses at the time. And who knows? Those guesses could have been better for you than you know.
The road not taken isn’t on the map
Do you know why the grass is always greener on the other side? Because we can’t quite make it there from here. You don’t know what would have happened had you made different choices. If you hadn’t called it off with your ex, do you really know that you’d be happy? If you’d left your dead-end job earlier, who’s to say you’d be in your dream job now?
Instead of worrying about what wasn’t (or what you think “should have been”), concentrate on making choices that help you be you who you want to be now. Maybe you wish you hadn’t strayed in your last relationship. Great – don’t do it in this one! But that doesn’t mean you and your ex would have found bliss together. There are unexpected things we cannot control along life’s journey and you can’t know how things “would” have turned out. What we can control is who we are and how we react to the challenges (unexpected and otherwise) that arise.
Don’t regret growth
So you know now that if you had a do-over, you’d make some different choices. Stop beating yourself up and instead, take that as a measure of success! Look how far you’ve come! If the goal is to one day be wiser than we are, then being wiser than we were is actually an achievement. But that achievement is only possible if you can see a decision or two as a misguided, immature or just plain dumb.
If you can look back on a past you and know you wouldn’t make the same mistakes – different ones, perhaps, but not the same ones – then congratulations! That’s how you know you’re doing it right.
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