How To Forgive Yourself From Past Mistakes

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

No matter how careful and how focus we are, from time to time, we will make mistakes. We can screw up in the most creative ways, from making wrong business decisions, to forgetting to buy flowers on the anniversary date.

In case you are interested to know how to make a comeback after screwing up at work, check out this article I wrote some times ago. But right now, I want to talk about a different issue.

So what happened recently is, a friend came to me and said she had made a silly mistake at work, by transferring money into a wrong account. It’s easily fixable; all it takes is just making a couple of phone calls and reverse the transaction.

It’s not that much of a big deal, but she still felt so terrible about it and refused to have dinner. I tried to cheer her up but not much luck.

That gets me into thinking. Why can’t she laugh it off? The answer is quite obvious, and that is, she wasn’t able to forgive herself.

You probably have experienced that before too. When you know you could’ve done better, you probably will go self-sabotaging, and beating yourself up.

We all know we can’t make every decision right, but the feeling of guilt will still crawl on our back. In this article, I am going to share a few approaches on how you can move on, and forgive yourself from past mistakes.

When I stuff up, the first thing I like to ask myself is should I blame everything on myself about this.

I feel this advice might be a bit controversial because that sounds like I am shirking the responsibility, but that’s not what I meant. What I mean here is, you shouldn’t take all the burden and think everything is your fault, because most likely other factors could have contributed to the current problem.

Sure, my friend was careless for not double-checking, but her colleague should have provided her with the right account number in the first place.

It’s a noble cause to take a bullet for everyone, and in some circumstances it’s the right thing to do. But when you are facing your inner self, you should be honest, and own your share of mistakes only.

Being a perfectionist is a double-edged sword. That makes you a person with high standards, and by not settling for less, you can receive great results. The downside is, you can feel defeated when things aren’t going into your way.

It’s essential to give in your best, but as I’ve mentioned a couple of times already, we will make mistakes from time to time. We need to acknowledge that.

In my friend’s situation, that wasn’t a big deal. She just can’t help magnifying the error, and she even punishing herself for not having dinner. Not a very wise decision if you ask me, unless she’s trying to find a reason to lose weight.

When you stuff up, you’ll probably experience a mixed feeling of shame and guilt. People tend to see these two are the same, but in fact, they are quite different.

Generally speaking, guilt serves a purpose, but shame does not.

You feel guilty because you know your action or decision has caused the undesired results, and you might have disappointed yourself or other people. In some ways, it’s good to feel the guilt because that allows you to own the mistakes.

However, shame is a negative emotional state, it’s often irrational, and it’ll lead you to self-sabotaging.

For instance, you may start thinking negatively and generalizing thoughts, by saying things like, “I’m a failure, and I’m good for nothing.” “I have never done anything right”.

Nothing great will come out when you are shaming yourself, you need to take a step back, take a few deep breathes and switch yourself to problem-solving mode. Start finding ways to control the damage, admit the mistake and apologize to someone who’s been affected.

These are better ways to redeem yourself.

The best thing about failing or making mistakes is, it can help you grow and improve, but only under one condition: You see that as a lesson.

The longer you spend dwelling on the mistake, the more you’ll be missing out. I mean, the fault cannot be undone, so why not make the most of it?

Try to detach your emotion for now, and see what you can learn from it. Ask yourself how you can handle the situation better next time. Come up with ways to prevent this from happening again.

You never know — the lesson could probably become so valuable to you, and you’ll be grateful that you’ve made this mistake in the past.

I know it’s easier said than done to forgive yourself, especially when you’ve hurt someone or created a disaster. But you have to understand that nothing good will come out if you don’t fix your mind.

Ask yourself if you are taking unnecessary burden, and don’t be a perfectionist when it comes to making mistakes. Also, ensure you get rid of the shameful feelings because that’s a waste of energy and you should start fixing the problem instead.

And finally, be grateful that you make such a mistake because it has taught you a good lesson. Over the course of time, that mistake will become trivial. You’ll probably find it funny and wonder why you were so upset back then.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s part of life to screw up, and it’s the screw up that makes our journey fun.

So have you forgiven yourself?

I’m Keith So, an inspired Career Empowerment Coach that wish to help you become the star performer in Life and career. If you are feeling lost or miserable at your current position, book a 30 minutes clarity call with me for free and see if we can figure something out!

A never-settled millennial that likes to write topics about career and personal finance for the like-minded.

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