We all make mistakes. It’s part of what makes us human. For some of us, it can feel as though our past mistakes follow us around. It’s almost like they form part of our shadow, and whatever we do, we can’t get rid of them. We struggle to let go of them. When we can’t let go of our mistakes, they can impact our day to day life and the way that we speak to ourselves. They can have a negative impact on our mood and the way that we handle difficult situations. Learning to let go of them can help us to move on.
Recognise That Mistakes Are Necessary
Mistakes are necessary. They help us to learn and grow as people, and without mistakes, we would never get anything done. Mistakes have given us wonderful inventions such as crisps, chocolate chip cookies, and penicillin. They are an unavoidable part of life, and they’re not always bad!
Learn From Them
Mistakes are often easier to let go if we can recognise that they had a, for want of a better word, purpose. Often, mistakes can teach us something. This could be anything – they could teach us that there are six ways of doing something that doesn’t work, that we need to be more careful of our wording in future, or that taking a particular route to work will always result in being stuck in traffic and arriving late.
We can often learn from our mistakes. Reflecting on them, and thinking about what we can take away from them to inform our future decisions and prevent us from making the same mistake again, can help us to make peace with them.
Do What You Can
Sometimes we can do something about our past mistakes. We can apologise to someone – whether it be someone we’ve upset or someone we’ve let down. Many of us apologise for things that are not our fault. We don’t need to do that, but if we have genuinely done something wrong then apologising can help us to leave the mistake behind us and move on.
There are times when we can put things in place to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake again. This could include improving our organisation and planning, writing things down so that we don’t forget them, or learning more about an issue and what language we can use going forward.
Once we have done all we can, we need to accept that we can’t do any more. It can be hard to accept that, often we want to do more and more, but there’s always a limit to what we can do. We can’t go back and change things that have already happened.
Recognise All The Mistakes You Didn’t Make
We might have made some mistakes in the past that we’re struggling to move on from, and our brains probably cling to those mistakes and play them on a continuous loop to beat us up and show us that we’re a ‘failure’. But for every mistake we make, there will be hundreds of mistakes that we didn’t make. Difficult situations that we handled. Days when we were on time to work. We often forget all the successes we had and things we achieved. They usually fade into the background of our memory whilst mistakes we make stick out like a sore thumb.
Taking some time to reflect on all of the mistakes we didn’t make can help us to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we did make.
Be Kind To Your Past Self
We normally do the best we can with what we’ve got and what we know at any given time. Our past selves did not know as much, or have as much experience, as our current selves. They also didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. We need to cut past-us some slack. Our mistakes aren’t usually intentional. We don’t usually wake up on a morning and decide that we’re going to make mistakes that day. Our younger selves have taught us lessons and got us to where we are today. We need to be kind to them.
We are worthy of forgiveness. Often if one of our friends or family members had made a similar mistake to us, we would forgive them. Many of us have very low self-esteem. We beat ourselves up over the smallest of mistakes rather than forgiving ourselves, or asking for forgiveness from others. But people would never forgive us if they didn’t feel like we deserved it. We are allowed to accept their forgiveness.
Look Towards The Future
Looking towards the future can help us to let go of past mistakes. We can use our mistakes to learn things, to inspire us to tackle a problem in a creative new way and to make positive changes moving forward. But ultimately, we need to look forward and let go of what’s happened in the past. Ruminating on our past mistakes only keeps us stuck. We deserve a future, we deserve to not let the past trip us up.
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.