Are you tormented by past mistakes? Do they hold you back and stop you from enjoying life?
Why Mistakes Are So Painful
Teal explains that our self-worth is tied to performance. When we make a mistake – as we all do at some time or another – we feel bad about ourselves and what we’ve done. This is why mistakes are so painful to live with.
But, most important, she goes on to point out that self-worth really has nothing to do with being perfect; instead it’s all about recognizing and accepting our innate worth regardless of performance.
Mistakes are the result of the retrospective interpretation of something said or done. But the problem with hindsight is that it doesn’t take into account the person you were at the time. You can’t expect to know what you didn’t know back then. In other words, it was a previous you with a different perspective who took the action that led to the mistake.
So, Teal recommends turning your thinking round and being grateful for the wisdom that has come as a result of making mistakes by the previous you.
But I Know Better Than To Do That, And Yet I Did It Anyway
If you’re tempted to beat yourself up, then it’s time to start thinking about motivation. This can be thought of as a perceived need or desire. The challenge in life, however, is that we’re often caught between opposing needs.
For example, you may be trying to eat healthily in order to lose weight. And then you’re tempted by a delicious looking donut which you decide to buy and eat. You might then feel bad about it. But what’s important here is that, in the moment, you did what you considered to be the best thing to do.
So, don’t beat yourself up.
Accepting and learning from the consequences of the actions we take allows us to make better choices in the future.
Reframe the Mistake
Think of a past mistake.
Close your eyes and try to remember what you were thinking and feeling at the time, then ask yourself…
- If I were to go back to that time, not knowing what I now know, would the same needs, perspectives and lack of awareness of the consequences still apply?
- Would I do something different or would I do the same thing again?
Recognize that you made the best decision you could at the time.
You have to do this, if you’re ever going to let yourself off the hook for your past mistakes.
To forgive yourself, you must re-frame the mistake in this way and search for the knowledge and understanding you have gained from the mistake.
Seven Questions To Ask Yourself
You then need to find new thoughts that allow you to let go of all the self-criticism. To help in this process, ask yourself seven questions:
- What valuable thing did this experience teach me that I would not otherwise have known about myself, another person or the world?
- And what did this experience allow me to realize what I want?
- What am I going to do differently in the future?
- How will this mistake help me to lead a better life in the future?
- Is there anything I can do to make reparation for the mistake?
- If so, what?
- How can I move forward from here?
Once you’ve answered these questions, make a list of all the positive aspects about the mistake you’ve made, remembering two important points:
- Embracing the mistake is not the same as condoning the pain you caused yourself or others.
- You’re not alone in making mistakes.
What this process does is stop you from using the mistake as an excuse to beat yourself up, which doesn’t serve any purpose at all.
No amount of recrimination is going to detract from the fact that the mistake was made. But when you can let yourself off the hook for the mistakes made, it becomes ten times easier to move forward, make reparation, make different choices and create a better life for yourself.
There is no such thing as success without failure, or perfection without mistakes. Mistakes are what allow you to grow and move in the direction you want.
You can’t keep using perfection as the criterion by which you beat yourself and against which you evaluate yourself.
If you want to live a happy life, you have to let go of the idea of perfection.