Stop beating yourself up about things that have been and gone. We all make mistakes. The past is dead, so why do we keep bringing it back to life in the present? Why do we keep carrying it on our backs, only to suffer under the weight? We cannot change anything. Nor should we regret anything. Everything is a learning curve; even steps backwards are actually steps forward. Stop living in the past and work on being a better you in the moment you’ve got.
The worst risk we can take is never taking a risk at all. The worst mistake we can make is never making a mistake at all. Where’s the journey? Where’s the adventure? Where’s the growth? Where’s the magic? You won’t find it hiding yourself away. You won’t find it if you never try anything. Some will work out and some will not. But out of those things that don’t, something better might. Losing that would be the biggest risk, mistake and regret.
It’s easy to punish ourselves for the things we’ve done in the past. But the truth is, since then, we’ve changed – we’re not that person of the past anymore. And more importantly, we can change. Stop beating yourself up for something you did when you were a different person. Start focusing on where you’re going and how you’re going about it. Don’t let the sadness of the past rob the happiness of now. Always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret.
We might wake up one day and wonder how we ended up where we are. We might think about where we could have been. Sometimes we got busy. Other times we got complacent. And sometimes there isn’t a perfect medium. But we always have to do what we love, what we deserve and what’s best for us. That sometimes requires hard work. That sometimes means taking it easy. Sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we have regrets. But no path is necessarily better than another. So instead of wondering about how we ended up where we are or thinking about where we could have ended up being, let’s focus on what we do have: the life ahead, to live as we please.
Regret can be bitter, distressing, and fierce. It gnaws at our pleasure, our time, and our sense of self. But we are always making decisions and taking paths. To regret one of those choices is to assume that life would be better if we had made a different one. But really, that’s just holding onto a possibility to avoid facing reality. Our reality isn’t something we should regret, no matter what circumstances we’re in. We wouldn’t be who we are without all the moments that have led up to now. And these are the moments that turn tragedies into joy and fortune. Our reality now doesn’t need to be our reality tomorrow. We are always capable of learning and changing. If we care enough to regret, then we should care enough to act. Life isn’t over because we’ve made a mistake. It’s just another beginning.
Even though we often tend to relive it, we ultimately cannot change the past. And whilst punishing ourselves seems to fit what we think we deserve, we need to learn to forgive ourselves. Because without forgiveness, there’s no moving forward and then there’s no future. We should always forgive ourselves for our mistakes, but here are a few times when we definitely should:
- When we let other people down – sometimes we have to do what’s best for us. And sometimes that’s borne out of things beyond our control. We cannot always please everyone and satisfy our own passions and dreams at the same time. At the end of the day, we have one life and we have to live it.
- When we trust the wrong person – we cannot see the inner workings of another person. So we cannot expect ourselves to know another’s intentions or predict another’s actions. Trust might be hard to hand out again next time, but don’t give up on it, because relationships are beautiful. They mean you’re living and not hiding.
- When we think we should be perfect – we set high expectations of ourselves, even if they’ve been created by somebody else. We all have limitations that we either need to accept or overcome. Don’t be so harsh on yourself. It’s ok to mess up. That’s how we get better.
- When we gave up on something – we all have times when we give up on something for a particular reason, whether temporary or permanent. And later on, we might come to regret that. But it’s never too late to start on an old or a new ambition. Learn a lesson from the last experience and push past that hurdle this time.
There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past. Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go.
What do you need to get better at forgiving yourself for?
Sometimes we underestimate the fact that we can do whatever we want. We easily start confusing what we want with what other people want, until it morphs into something repressive. We want to please those we love. We want to provide for those we care about. We want approval from our peers. And that’s ok if other people aren’t our sole focus. Because people shouldn’t dictate what we can do and what we can’t do. People shouldn’t confine us with labels and rules. People shouldn’t make us feel small or inferior. They might try. But we don’t have to let them. And really, it’s whatever we want to do that will shine onto the world and make everyone else glow too.