Repeat after me: I’m greater than my darkest moments.
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“I can’t always be in control and that’s ok” It’s one of the things I’ve had to routinely tell myself to keep my peace of mind. Life happens and things don’t always go my way. Sometimes, it’s at the hands of the universe. And sometimes it’s because I screwed it up. Regardless of the outcome, which I can’t control, I can control my reaction and overcome it. When it doesn’t go as planned you need to forgive yourself for it.
Unfortunately, my reaction hasn’t always been that great; especially when I’m the one who screwed up. I’ve made so many mistakes over the years. And like many people, I beat myself up about it for a while and then convinced myself that I’ll have life figured out soon. But I never do and the cycle continues. Of course, It took me nearly 30 years to realize I will never have it all figured out. Not having all the answers. It’s what makes life interesting.
And as interesting as life may be, it doesn’t make dealing with those mistakes any easier. However, I’ve learned that if I want to move forward, I need to stop looking at the past regretfully and dwelling on it. Instead, I must look back on it, forgive myself and acknowledge the lessons I’ve learned from them.
As of late, the popular method for moving forward and overcoming has been to reframe what happened. Obviously, you can’t change the past. But you can actively reframe your like by being aware of the thoughts you have around that situation. It’s not the answer to everything but reframing your life and things that troubled you can be helpful in forgiving yourself.
Forgiving yourself may not always be easy, but it’s necessary if you ever want to grow and move forward in life. In case you are having trouble, I’ve listed 30 of the common mistakes made and have trouble forgiving ourselves for. Read through them, remember the time and lessons, and use them to make better decisions. Then use them to reframe your life as necessary. And of course, be proud as those mistakes made you the person you are now.
- Putting your dreams on hold
Kiss the regret and the life you could have lived goodbye. Say hello to the life you are capable of creating and living. Time may have passed by, but your dreams didn’t. You still have a chance to take that first step towards your goal no matter how tiny. It may be the hardest step to take, but it will be worth it.
2. Falling in love with the wrong person
Matters of the heart don’t always come easy. Even if it was the wrong person. Be proud you were able to love at all and the lessons that followed because of it.
3. Taking out that student loan
It’s hard to forgive yourself for a decision that follows you around like a dark cloud for so long. But once you realized the experiences and lessons (good and bad) those student loans awarded you, it may not seem so bad after all. Things were different back then and college has changed. Don’t blame yourself for doing what you thought was right at the time. Think of it as a life lesson.
4. Finding your passion “so late” in life
Contrary to popular belief, no one expects you to be enlightened at 21. And while your peers always seemed so sure, you took the time to explore what truly made your heart sing. Don’t worry about how long it took you to find it. Be happy that you found it at all. And if you haven’t found it yet, you are well on your way.
5. The relationship where you weren’t “all there”
Though sometimes we wish it wasn’t true, you can’t force love. And that includes yourself. You can’t make yourself love someone who isn’t right for you. Sometimes trying to “get it right” for so long is just proof that the relationship is wrong for you both. It was probably best to stop trying to get it right so love could grow better elsewhere.
6. The bridges you’ve burned
People change and relationships change. And while things may not always end the way you would like, trust that everything has its season. Though it may not have been pleasant, the season ended when it was necessary. Whoever it was that exited your life served his or her purpose. And should this person in which you burned a bridge is meant to be a part of your life, the lesson hasn’t been learned and will reappear when the time is right.
7. The bridges you should have burned but didn’t
The relative that’s continuously pushing buttons, the friend who rarely celebrates your wins, and the coworker who only appears when they need something are all still around and draining your energy. If you’re mad at yourself for continuously allowing these people access to you, you are not alone. Instead, we were taught that “life is too short” which translated into “stop holding grudges and keep all the good and bad in reach.”
Learning how to cut ties and set boundaries isn’t something most of us have grown up with. The good thing is, you know now and in the perfect stage of your life to speak up and advocate for yourself. Remember, what you require to feel whole isn’t out of line.
8. The lack of affection you’ve given your parents
“It’s crazy how fast time goes by.” We say it oh so often about our children, but barely recognize it applies to our parents until it’s too late. Then the guilty feelings flood in as you recognize the lack of affection and attention as you let life get away from you. It’s ok. It happens and parents normally understand. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If your parents are still around there’s still time to show them the love you know they want. And if they’re not, continue to honor them and share the lessons they’ve taught you with others.
9. The slice of pizza you shouldn’t have eaten
This too shall pass. Life can’t be all about depriving yourself. Sometimes, you need to indulge.
10. The workouts you’ve skipped
So you missed those workouts before. Who said you can’t make up for it today?
11. The things you don’t know
No one expects you to know everything. Just be open to learning daily.
12. The times you screwed up at work
Most bosses don’t expect employees to be absolutely perfect at everything they do. And if you took a poll, you’ll find that everyone makes mistakes at work. Just don’t allow those mistakes to change your work ethic.
13. That time you were selfish
Selfish isn’t a bad word and we need to stop treating it as such. Regardless, if it was something as important as your career or as simple as taking a nap instead of assisting a friend, we all need to put ourselves first at some point. No need to feel guilty or ashamed. Sometimes you need to be selfish so you can be even more selfless for others. Most importantly, you deserve to serve yourself and honor your needs regardless of who you are to other people.
14. The times you settled for less
It’s not always easy to see all you are worth and deserve. Just remember the only one who can determine your value is you.
15. The time you gave bad advice unintentionally
We don’t have all the answers and we can’t predict the future. As long as your heart was in the right place there’s no need to feel guilty. It’s never a bad thing when you attempt to guide someone who feels lost.
16. Not standing up for that injustice
Just like you’re not perfect, the world isn’t perfect. And that means there are a lot of injustices that need to be fixed. You’re only one person and you can’t fix all of them. It’s ok if you didn’t have the strength, courage, or drive to speak out against them all. Nobody expects you to save the world. Find the cause that speaks to your heart and go after it.
17. For giving your child the iPad a tad too many times
We all know what they say about tablets and screen time. But you did what you needed to at the time and your sanity is sacred. Giving your child a tablet isn’t lazy parenting, it’s survival.
18. That time you weren’t there when you were needed
The time your friend needed a ride home from work. The time you couldn’t be in the wedding. The time you missed the important phone call. You can’t be there all the time, but you are there when it matters most.
19. For taking too long to forgive others and holding that grudge
There’s no rule on how long you are allowed to feel hurt. You did what felt right at the time. What’s important is you finally came around.
20. The time you did things you shouldn’t have to fit in
The morals you ditched. The things you said. The outfits you wore to fit in. As long as you found yourself again, be proud of yourself. And if you still haven’t found yourself, but in the process, acknowledge that you are on track to getting back to you again.
21. The day you took your anger out on someone else
We are emotional beings. Sometimes those emotions are good and sometimes not so much. Unfortunately, lashing out is part of the territory. Recognize where you went wrong and make an effort to manage emotions a bit better in the future.
22. That time you took a break
Walking away from work. Walking away from school. Or walking away from that important project. Whatever it is, remember that everything has its season. You are allowed to regroup and recharge. It will probably help you get back to what you started even stronger.
23. Judging someone you shouldn’t have
Looks can be deceiving and people can be hard to read. From introverts, extroverts, neurotypicals, neurodivergents, leaders, and storytellers, it’s hard to tell who is who anymore. These very different characteristics can be misunderstood. We all do it sometimes.
24. For spending more money than you should
We live in a society that’s constantly telling us we don’t have enough. From commercials, social media, and junk mail, there is always someone talking us out of our money. It’s not easy resisting temptation. It happens to all of us. Put what you purchased to good use and take a lesson to better assess your necessities with budgets.
25. Seeking acceptance and approval from the wrong people
We all want to be accepted by others. But if you haven’t accepted who you are, the approval from others won’t matter. Everything you are and will become is enough and all you need.
26. For the times you couldn’t give to those in need
It’s easy to look at all the people around you doing good in the world and feel guilty because you don’t measure up. Maybe you couldn’t give your friend a place to crash at the time, or maybe you didn’t have change to give to the unhoused man on the street. We can’t be everyone’s knight in shining armor. Instead, focus on the good you have done and the good you are capable of doing.
27. The days you refused to take care of yourself when you should’ve
Society glorifies the busy, overworked, and those who are everything to everyone else. It’s no wonder we don’t know how to be balanced. It’s a work in progress for everyone. You’re in good company.
28. The chances you didn’t take
We like to believe that if we did things differently our lives would be better. Maybe it was a trip you skipped or a career move you passed up on. Whatever it is, you can’t live in alternate realities. This is your reality. You are here and you are doing just fine.
29. The times you second guessed yourself
They say you should never ignore your gut yet you’ve done it a time or two. And that’s ok. As clear as your intuition may be, it’s not always easy to listen to when there are so many outside factors working against it. Luckily, your initiation doesn’t lose potency due to lack of use. Trust me. You’ll have more chances to listen to your gut in the future.
30. Not acknowledging the growth you’ve made
If you think you haven’t accomplished anything, it might be because you aren’t paying attention. Every day is another opportunity to grow and become who you really are.
31. Not teaching your kids about money… or something else that matters
As I deal with the constant battle of paying off student loan debt, I know my parents would constantly be hard on themselves for not teaching me better. However, I don’t blame them and no parent should be blaming themselves either. Why? Because you teach your kids all that you know. Maybe you should have known more, but that’s ok. What’s important is that we know better now and we can move forward with what we do know.
TERRific Quip: Imperfection is a form of freedom.
Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Did any of these resonate with you?