Some things I’m not proud of.
And some that I’m embarrassed about.
I’ve made bad decisions.
Followed by worse ones.
And held tightly to some bad assumptions.
I’ve inadvertently hurt those I’ve loved.
Made others feel badly.
And neglected to own up to my faults.
I could get mad at my former iterations; berate myself for my shortcomings and mistakes. Goodness knows, I did plenty of that when I learned that my ex husband had me completely fooled.
Or, I could see those earlier versions of myself as steps along the way, focusing on making minor adjustments based on previous experiences.
We had dinner with an old friend the other night. He went through a bad breakup – after a bad relationship – several years ago. He still sees his ex periodically and he mentioned how much these encounters still impact him. Interestingly, the emotional reactions are not due to lingering feelings for her or residual sadness from the breakup.
The negative response is because she reminds him of who he was several years ago. And not only does our friend not like his old self, the fact that he was that person results in anger.
He has forgiven his ex.
He has yet to forgive himself.
I loved my husband’s response to this proclamation, “Without blue belt Brock, there would be no black belt Brock. I sucked back then. I knew nothing and made stupid mistakes. But if I hadn’t been through that, I wouldn’t have been able to become a black belt.”
Wow. Truth right there.
We are all experiential learners.
No child walks with confidence the first time they stand. Adolescents endure plenty of awkward make-out sessions before they learn how to kiss. Pilots train on virtual planes so that their mistakes have little impact in the real world. Apple had to come out with some pretty clunky versions of computers before they could develop the sleeker machines they are now known for.
We learn by doing, making mistakes and trying again. And getting mad at ourselves for not getting it right the first time is as silly as yelling at a toddler for falling down on their initial attempt at walking.
That past version of you was a necessary step for this current version of you.
If we commit to punishing ourselves for what has happened in the past, we leave little energy for improvement. When we forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, we allow ourselves the opportunity to learn and improve.
Forgive yourself for what you have done. Don’t excuse yourself from doing better.