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Writer-s-Bloc

Feel free to make mistakes

By Peter Comrie

Humour me for a moment and imagine your entire life as if it were a full bucket.

What percentage of everything in that bucket of life experiences represents guilt and/or regrets?

We know — from personal experience and decades of research — that experiences can, and do, affect our reality. It’s quite likely that feeling bad about choices you’ve made might be creating problems for you.

Talking about guilt and regrets is important at any time, but it’s especially crucial now in a second year of pandemic living.

Then (you know what’s coming next), we must take action to deal with our past, so it doesn’t continue to mess with life now.

Here’s how:

“Hello, my name’s Peter and I make mistakes”

We all do it. We all make mistakes. We’ve all done things we shouldn’t — or wish we hadn’t. Welcome to the human race, a race that makes small and large mistakes.

I often see a sense of relief in people when they finally accept their humanity and give themselves permission to make mistakes and admit those mistakes. It’s really freeing to stop expecting perfection from ourselves.

There are no time machines

Whatever did or did not happen in the past is done. Permanent. Unchangeable. Sure, you can spend time every day going over all that happened, all that was wrong, all that could have been.

At the end of the day, you will still have the same things in your past that you had at the start of the day.

There are some appropriate times and places to work through things in the past. But at a point, it’s time to stop, leave the past in the past, and choose to look forward.

Remember, absolutely nothing will change the past.

Change your thought loop

Many of us have had a lot of time in the past year to get lost in thought. And for those dealing with guilt and regret, those thoughts can be very negative.

Our brain gets stuck in thought loops easily — especially negative ones. It’s possible you weren’t even aware of your repetitive negative self-talk — until now.

Pay attention to the thoughts you have over and over. Perhaps write them down (journal) as you become aware of them. If they’re not positive and forward focused, they are certainly bringing negativity to your entire self.

Write down a new set of truths that have nothing to do with the past, and repeat them until they overwrite the old loop. While it’s harder to create a new thought loop, once it’s firmly in place, you will notice a positive change (and your brain will begin to default to the good stuff all on its own).

Forgive yourself

This is a biggie. Whatever you did in the past, please forgive yourself:

State what you did/said/didn’t do List the feelings attached to this event

Say “I forgive myself for…” (Yes, absolutely this must be said out loud.)

Don’t worry if there isn’t a rush of positive feelings. It can take time for you to feel the release from the resentment/guilt you’ve held onto.

The next time you’re tempted to slip back into the old thought loop, remind yourself (again, out loud is best) that you’ve forgiven yourself

Drag the learning out of mistakes

How many times has a mistake led to new learning, new revelations, even entirely new ways of doing things? As I already mentioned, mistakes are part of the human experience. But so is learning from our mistakes.

Whatever mistakes you’ve made, forgive yourself for them, and then grab all the good learning you can from them — insist on gaining growth out of the deal!

What do you think? Are these suggestions real and doable? Can you use them? Will you use them? As always, we’re in this together, so let’s work through things by sharing our insight.

Let me know the tools you use that work for you.

Peter Comrie is a leadership and executive coach with Full Spectrum Leadership. You can find him at https://www.fullspectrumleadership.com

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