The highly successful Brian Tracy wrote, “Always choose the future over the past. What do we do now?” That’s good advise, I think, when it comes to solving problems. But it does little to release those of us tortured by past regrets and mistakes.
Some of my bad choices from many years ago caused painful and damaging consequences for other people. Those are the regrets that can haunt me the most. Those memories sting and I placed myself in an emotional jail where I inflicted suffering upon myself as punishment for hurting people I care about. My thoughts would persistently remind me that I was unworthy, marred, screwed-up, or whatever the word of the day was.
It took time for me to heal with soul-searching therapy. I understand how other people live fully in the past and why they speak about regrets and degrade themselves for mistakes from years ago. I get why their current happiness isn’t possible because of this or that occurred last month or last year.
I’m here to tell you, from experience, that as long as you cling to the mistakes of yesterday, you make another mistake today. When you’re busy mentally torturing yourself, you’re unable to focus to learn from, and understand the mistake so you can become wiser, so you can grow, so you can help others through their pain. Making a mistake is not a crime. Passing judgment on yourself along with a sentence to an emotional punishing prison for penance, doesn’t work. There’s nothing you can do to alter your actions of yesterday, but you can choose differently right now. No amount of self-punishment will alter what happened. But you can make amends where possible. You can remember that you’re not perfect. Mistakes happen.
“People screw up. People screw up a lot. We allow our own selfishness to overpower us at times. It happens. But you can’t allow that to tear you down. You can’t keep dwelling on your past choices, and your past actions, or else you’ll never learn from them.”¹
Give your past regrets meaning today, not punishment, by seeing them as turning points in your life, not condemning moments.
Thanks for your time and comments. –Dr. Sandy
¹Nicole Sobon, Deprogrammed
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