There are moments when a person will focus on the past and start kicking themselves for mistakes that took place. The assault on their own psyche can have a profound impact.
“I can’t believe I did…”
“I was so stupid…”
“This will never ever happen again…”
The list of horrible self-talk can frighten any would be listener. It’s borderline insane the things we hold against ourselves. Is there a better way?
Yes there is a better way. We have to learn to forgive ourselves and allow ourselves to move forward. While the process itself is not easy, it is necessary for the enjoyment of the present and the setting up of the future.
Without forgiving ourselves, we slowly crucify our own ability to have more in the future. In some circles, it is believed we can talk ourselves into dangerous negative mental states with sometimes irreversible consequences.
One example, I once made the choice to give up on a budding career in photography because I blamed myself for what I assumed a client was going to negatively say about a set of business initiatives and practices I wanted to test.
In plain speak, I decided to increase the length of time I took to turn around certain big projects to improve their quality while assuring the brides that the increased cost was going to give them a better final product.
In practice, I didn’t add the additional two-week turnaround I was saying I needed. However, I was not clear on what the improvements were and why the cost had gone up a marginal amount. One bride, trying to use social pressure to negotiate a lower price, said some hurtful things about my professionalism.
Things got cleared up very quickly once we sat and talked. That bride ended up championing my services to others because she loved the final product. I got paid more than I had initially asked for, as at thank you for the quality of the product delivered.
I didn’t forgive myself
I took the event way to personal. I fell down a rabbit hole of doubt and self-sabotaging criticism. I grew bleak and catastrophized things to the tenth degree. I blamed myself for all the bad publicity. I canceled other engagement because I was feeling doomed from that one encounter.
This downward spiral mixed with the 2008 economic down turn proved to be too much for me to handle economically and I shut down my photography business prematurely.
It took a few years for me to realize that I had not forgiven myself for the incident. During that period of time, I moved with fear. I was overly sensitive to what people would say whenever I picked up the camera to take photos.
After finally stopping myself and assessing things objectively, I was able to pause the self-doubt and intense criticism long enough to forgive myself of my errors… and learn from them.
The forgiveness lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Allowed me to resume photos on my terms and enjoy the journey once more. This included forgiving myself for allowing the business idea to fade into the past.
Listen. Things happen. Life isn’t rosy every single day. There are critics out there. Your mind shouldn’t be one of those critics.
I’m in talks with myself to resume my photography in the future… for those curious. I’ve kept at it quietly because I really enjoy it. When I resume, I won’t be doing photos as quietly anymore. But, back to the post.
Self Examination vs Self Critical
It’s one thing to look and learn from what you’ve done. It’s another to drive yourself crazy. It’s one thing to be real about what works and what doesn’t work. It’s another to be a slave driver getting off on brutalizing yourself.
Many get an emotional charge off of self-flagellation. If it didn’t meet an emotional need, we wouldn’t carry on doing it.
Some of these needs cover the “hedging bets” category of needs. If we beat ourselves up and fail, well, we already knew we would… so we’re not so bad. Plus, if we don’t try hard enough, it’s emotionally safer to say we already knew it couldn’t work.
Others just repeat the negativity they heard growing up and it feels comforting to have that inner dialogue bring back familiar feelings, albeit painful ones.
Worse, it can often feel like we’re being smart about the dangers and harms that can exist by being so harsh on ourselves. You’re not being real or smart, you’re being destructive. A smart person acknowledges the risks and puts in place the necessary plans to mitigate the risks and still move forward. (the direction of which may vary based on risks and ability to tolerate them)
Motivational Monday – Forgive Thyself
No matter what has happened in the past, the mental effort spent on the past won’t give much rewards with regards to the past. What is done is done. Kicking oneself about the errors of the past does not change anything about the past.
However, one can always reinvent themselves. No matter how little or how much, it can be done. Taking the lessons of the past to move forward with a better focus… now that’s smart use of one’s time. Ruminating about the past… not so much
We often find it in our hearts to forgive others. We should find it in ourselves to afford our souls the same level of respect. The release of a burden we feel when we forgive others is also ours if we forgive ourselves. It’s OK to forgive ourselves. Self-forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re forgetting the past or the lessons from the past. It just means you’re no longer a prisoner to the pains of the past.
Besides, our minds have the ability to forget for a reason. Let that feature actually work for you.
As I’m writing my thoughts of conclusion, I’m thinking of all the other issues in my private life that needs a forgiving touch. Things I’ve held on to far too long. Even things in the recent past that I need to let go of before it becomes an extra weight to lug around… self-forgiveness is important for self growth.
As we launch into another week, let’s have a clean slate so we can seize the opportunities ahead. Forgive yourself. Be good to yourself. Allow the lessons to propel you forward.
Objects in the mirror appear to be close than they really are… when looking at the past. Turn your focus towards what’s ahead of you, by forgiving your past self, and let your current self setup the stage for your future self. That way, in the future, you will be thanking yourself for having forgiven yourself.
Yeah… way meta… but true.
Have that chat with yourself and then, have a great awesome week