Hard to say you're sorry

Sorry, I made a mistake.

Five simple words, easy enough to say, yet for some, they seem unutterable.

I can’t say I like it when I screw up, but we’re all human. We make mistakes.

So much energy is consumed in trying to hide a blunder. The mental and emotional coin required to cover something up is expensive. I’ve always found great relief in simply owning my errors.

As a child, I learned some simple facts the hard way.

When you tell the truth, you never have to remember a lie you told.

When you make a mistake, trying to cover it up makes things complicated, and your character is called into question. Character and integrity matter greatly to me.

I taught my children that I could handle any news they had, but I couldn’t handle a lie.

As news continued of U.S. President Donald Trump covering up his mistaken statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian, I shook my head in puzzlement. It’s sadly become laughable.

With all the twists and turns, the use of a sharpie pen to prove innocence, and blaming others for an error, a simple mistake has claimed the headlines.

Something relatively small has taken on an epic size. I’ve been fascinated to see what’s next, curious about who else will need to take the fall.

The need to save face, to prove himself right, has blown a simple mistake into international headlines.

At what cost?

I respect and trust people willing to admit their bloopers and take responsibility for them.

I also question the character of those who hide or deny their errors, or turn to excuses or blaming. My confidence and trust in their veracity is diminished, and it leaks into other aspects of our relationship.

Everything becomes suspect.

News stories this past week have caused me to be grateful for my early life lessons, that have made my life happier and less complicated. Owning up to my shortcomings and taking responsibility for my mistakes is strangely like a balm to my mind and soul.

I have nothing to hide, and most important, I can look myself in the mirror and sleep with a clear conscience. At the end of the day, owning up to mistakes, accepting my own imperfect humanity with humility, and humour, is a selfish act.

The personal cost of trying to hide something is a price I’m not willing to pay.

As human beings, we are prone to make mistakes.

We make mistakes, but we are not our mistakes. We are humans evolving, often just trying our best to do the right thing. Many times, my best learning comes from the mistakes I’ve made.

Owning up to our mistakes, knowing they don’t define us assists us to learn and grow. Taking responsibility to make things right when we’ve done something untoward makes us feel better.

Being human doesn’t require that we are perfect, whatever perfect is.

Our character isn’t defined by the mistakes we make, but the way we deal with them.


Life is lived in the dash

Life’s lived in a dash and accidentally for many people.

The early part of my life was lived by accident, and certainly not on purpose. Each day felt like a dash, as I raced through my to-do list.

I was alive, but I’d hardly have called it living. I lived in response to life, never having really made a decision about what I wanted my life to stand for.

The poem, The Dash, really caused me to pause and take stock. I think of it often when I’m trying to decide what’s important.

In this poem, Linda Ellis reminds us of the importance of the dash, the life that’s lived between the years of birth and death, listed in an obituary.

Life is contained in our dash.

Until I read the poem, life unfolded in front of me; I did the expected things. A cookie-cutter life made of the same dough as everyone around me. I often spent my days in response to what was happening around me instead of what was important to me.

It never dawned on me to stop and ask what I wanted in life, and to listen for the promptings of my heart.

I was happy enough, as one day rolled into the next, but really, it was a pretty beige life. Days were paved with sameness and predictability. It felt safe. I fit well into the societal mould, but didn’t really feel I was living my purpose.

I didn’t want to get to the end of my days wishing I’d followed my heart, wishing I’d taken the risk of breaking out of my established mould, and trying something new.

Crazy as it might sound, I’d never taken the time to search my own soul to ask myself probably the most important questions of my life.

  • What do I really want to do?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?
  • What do I stand for?

Waking up, letting go of all of the unwritten expectations and rules of life, and delving in to ask myself who I wanted to be was a powerful day for me. Everything changed.

There’s a huge power in connecting with the wisdom within, and in making a decision.

According to Raymond Charles Barker, author of The Power of Decision:

“Your life becomes the thing you have decided it shall be.”

I’ve found this to be true.

Once I make a decision, it’s like a mobilizing force in my life lifting me forward.

How many of us take the time to consciously decide, and then have the courage to live out the decisions we make?  Not to decide is still a decision, as we simply accept the status quo.

Having made my decisions, life has been an epic ride and I’ve done things I never would’ve imagined. At times it’s been scary, as it requires that I step outside my comfort zone.

Comfort is over-rated, and I’ve learned life begins at the edge of my comfort zone.

It’s easy to slip into the routines of life and forget to pause and ask ourselves what’s next. It’s a great question to ask ourselves from time-to-time.

What do you want your dash to stand for?

What legacy do you want to leave?

Each person has a unique role to play and gifts to share with the world, as only they can. Check in with yourself:

  • what’s next?
  • what’s calling you?

Make a decision. It’s never too late.

Your thoughts control you

Don’t believe everything you think

Sleep challenges are rampant these days and anxiety disorders are on the rise.

For some, it’s no wonder, because of the horror stories they pay homage to in their minds.

The body doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, and many of our imaginings are horrendous.

As we spend time reviewing the problems and challenges of the day, our body responds as though the events are happening in real time.

Bedtime stories are supposed to be the things sweet dreams are made of. Yet, for many, the mental dialogue is a horror story rather than a fairy tale.

We’re often our own Brothers Grimm. No wonder people are anxious and can’t sleep.

The last horror movie I watched was Silence of the Lambs way back in the early 1990s; I was jumpy for days after watching it and it affected my sleep for some time.

Just the mention of Chianti or fava beans reminds me of the terror I felt while watching this movie.

This was the last such movie I watched because of its effect on me. Call me chicken if you like, but why would I expose myself to something that causes me to suffer?

Since then, I avoid watching frightening movies, and take care when choosing TV programs.

I also take care with the movie of my mind.

The importance of taking care of our mental hygiene is obvious when it comes to the TV programs and movies we watch, but may not be so apparent when it comes to the repeated thoughts we entertain in our mind.

People tell me they feel victimized by their minds and can’t seem to control the thoughts that pop into their minds.

We don’t have to be victim to our minds. What we practise grows stronger. With awareness, we can rewire our brains and change the prevailing trend of our thoughts.

As I practised anxious thoughts years ago, I suffered. My mind felt out of control, and my body was constantly hit with jolts of adrenaline.

My anxious thoughts frightened me, which only added more stress chemicals to the mix. I felt helpless, but I was the only one who could change things. Mindfulness practices were so helpful.

I used to take my thoughts so seriously, believing everything that rolled through my mind.

I’d judge and criticize myself for having anxious or unkind thoughts. I’d experience guilt or shame just because of a thought. The thoughts, the guilt and shame, all activated the fight-or-flight response.

I suffered. So did the people around me.

Relief came as I understood I am not my thoughts, and learned not to believe everything I think.

As I’ve learned to stand back from my thoughts and simply observe them, I realize how random and absurd they can be.

I’ve learned to question my thoughts and recognize that many times I don’t even believe some of the stuff floating through my mind.

Who knows how it got there?

I sure don’t.

I recognize while many thoughts float through my consciousness, I have control over which ones I choose to follow.

For the most part, I let the crappy thoughts just float on by. I don’t give them any air time or feed them with emotion. Sometimes, I choose to just laugh at them. I crack myself up.

I’ve created a habit of ensuring the my last thoughts while preparing for sleep are happy ones.

I write in my gratitude journal before going to sleep. In reviewing the great things from the day, I bathe my mind and body in neuro-chemicals and hormones that support of health.

We don’t have to be victim to our thoughts, we can practise new ways of thinking. In doing so, we develop a tendency to pay greater attention to what supports our health, happiness and sleep.

Your mind will always believe what you tell it. Feed it good things, and your health will benefit.


Kidnapped by Mom

I was held hostage for years. It was a painful and confusing time.

I didn’t realize I played an active role in my imprisonment. I held the key to my own freedom and didn’t even know it.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It sure felt so at the time, and it was emotionally expensive.

While I wasn’t locked in a physical cell, as an adult, I found myself held hostage in my mother’s mind.

When we’d visit home, Mom treated me like a teenager. Even though I was a mother, and had matured and grown, every visit home was filled with some kind of drama between the two of us.

Nobody could hurt me or cause me to act as unskillfully as my mother.

Even though I’d long given up my teen behaviours, all my skill and maturity flew out the window when Mom hit an old button. She knew where they were and could hit them with precision. I reacted poorly and predictably.

The most challenging part was watching myself revert to teen behaviours in response to her goading. We fought like two teenage girls; it was embarrassing. I knew it had to stop.

I came to realize, in my mother’s eyes, I’d always be held hostage until I changed my view of her and of myself in her presence. I’d forever be the teenage version of myself because I also hadn’t let go of the past and how I saw her.

I couldn’t change her, but I could change myself. I had to be the one to make the change.

I played a major role in our relationship; it takes two to tango.

I had to forgive my mother and myself. I had to let go, to forgive, to free myself from the tethers of the past and create possibility of a new tomorrow.

I was no longer the person of my youth, and if I wanted the keys to my own freedom, I needed to stop reacting as I did way back then.

I made the conscious choice to free my mother from my judgment. I had to act like the adult I was, with all of the skill and ability I’d developed over the years, and meet her there. I engaged with her like I would any other person, with respect, patience, and curiosity.

It was very confusing for Mom at first. She’d grown accustomed to my reactions, and she wasn’t sure what to do with the new me. Peace prevailed, and a new way of being with each other developed.

What I’d done for years was to react; re-act, follow old patterns of behaviour that only served to keep us locked into a way of relating that wasn’t healthy.

This was such a great life lesson for me.

I realized my own tendency to hold other people hostage in my mind, connected to the memory of who they were, not who they’ve become. I missed out on really knowing them anew.

Where do we keep ourselves and others stuck in roles, or the mistakes of the past?

When I released my older brother from the role of scary dude, and he realized I was no longer the kid, we discovered good things about one another. I saw him through a new lens and I liked what I saw.

The casual relationship we had has been transformed into a caring, respectful, and mutually supportive one. It’s a blessing.

Most people change and evolve over time. When we make the assumption that people have remained static, we lose out on discovering who they are now.

I’ve learned to be conscious, not to hold my own children and others hostage in my mind. I remain curious and meet people where they are at. I love the relationships I have with my adult children, nieces & nephews.

I respect them and I love what I get to learn.

In reality, we’re all humans becoming; humans evolving and becoming more and different than we were in the past.

As we remain curious and open when engaging with people in our lives, we can be delighted at who we get to meet.

More New Thought articles

About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories