Have you ever you made a mistake? Yes, you. Start by giving voice to your thoughts and feelings, please – out loud – to someone. If you feel embarrassed and refuse to admit your “mistake,” change the word to “learning experience.” Did you ever have one of those? Your inner critic may start beating you up and prevent you from eventually forgiving yourself. See how he or she is trying to sabotage you from letting go or moving on. Talk to yourself. You heard me. Talking to yourself is a sign of genius. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Listen, one advantage of talking to yourself is that you know that at least someone is listening.
When your inner critic is harsh, reply with self-compassion and forgiveness
Who were you when you did what you did? Have you built your identity around your mistakes? Please do not define yourself (or others) by your flaws and fumbles. Stewing in remorse will get you nowhere fast. A bit of guilt is actually good for us. It reminds us that our behavior was in conflict with our values. Remember, every feeling serves a purpose. This is how we learn and heal from our bloopers and blunders. Now you can begin to repair any damage done.
You don’t get to break up with yourself. So you had best find a way to keep your relationship with thyself loving and redeeming. Please don’t hide behind denial. We’ve all been there. You forgot her birthday. Could it be that you haven’t aged enough for him to notice? Hmm. You never call when you say you will. You’re on the same page, but you’re not even reading the same book. Sheesh. No excuses, please. Step right on into the blame. Sure, it’s not your most fulfilling moment, but how else do you improve your being?
You may need to make peace with occasionally disappointing yourself. Do not lash yourself with pangs of guilt or self-consciousness. Take the sting out, as this slip-up does not determine who you are. Still having negative feelings? Press “Pause” on them for today. Trust me, they will still be there waiting for you tomorrow.
You are not letting yourself off the hook by forgiving yourself, sweet friends. You accept responsibility, feel remorse, make amends, and are able to show compassion to yourself now. No, you are not intrinsically a bad person. But are you ready to make positive behavioral changes? What can you do to prevent the same unfortunate occurrence in the future? Can you answer that question?
Shake off your gloom and doom. Do not drown your pain in alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, or gossip. No decision should be made on an empty shopping bag. I know. You shop at work. It’s the only place you can spend money while you make it. Perhaps you need to find a hobby that doesn’t include your debit card. Speaking of food, if I were Snow White, you’d never be able to kill me with an apple. You’d have to poison an éclair or something. Heh.
But truly, take solace in what heals your soul: music, nature, or spiritual talks. When in doubt, let playfulness cushion your fall, sweet friends. If you have to choose one quality to get you through this life, choose humor. You know what they say: If you lose one sense, your other senses are enhanced. That’s why people with no sense of humor have an increased sense of self-importance.
Still thinking about a road you chose not to take? Haunted by a choice you made way back in the day? That backpack you’re carrying looks awfully heavy. Wouldn’t it be great if emotional baggage could be lost as easily as aircraft luggage? Time to put the heavy load down, and travel light, my friends. I tried to sue the airport for misplacing my luggage. I lost my case. The truth is we all come with baggage. Your friends are the ones who love you enough to help you unpack.
If you could go back in time and do it all over again, how would you re-do it? Remember to think kind thoughts about yourself. After damage control, do some soul-searching. Use those setbacks to determine what is most important to you right now. I know, you want to go back in time and tell yourself what you know now. Change your behavior and re-examine your beliefs to serve you better the next time around.
The truth is that the biggest mistake you can ever make is being afraid to make one.