Learning From Our Mistakes
Letting go is often easier said than done, well at least it is for me. I’ve often wondered why I remember things so well, especially the things that I’d rather forget, it’s not intentional. It’s not even like I’m holding a grudge, because often, it’s not just other people I remember things about, it’s myself too. Sometimes the thoughts will come out of nowhere and I’ll suddenly be caught in a spin remembering something I said years ago, and I mean literally years ago. I doubt anyone else would even remember, and yet, there I am beating myself up about it. I doubt I can be the only one, although when I mention it, many people tell me I just need to let things go, to forget about it.
I’ve often said, we can’t change the past, so there’s no point in regretting the things that have got us to the point we are at now. My mistakes have gained me my sobriety and for that I will be eternally grateful, but of course, that doesn’t mean I am proud of everything in my past. I’m not sure anyone could say they were proud of everything though?
Mistakes in many ways shape who we are. We grow and we learn and we can’t always get everything right. We are human after all. I suppose the most important thing is that we learn from our mistakes. That we try not to repeat them and actually use our experiences for good, rather than continually reminding ourselves what failures we are, because largely we aren’t, even when we make mistakes. Most of us are trying to do the best we can, and we have to remember that. In that way, reflecting on our mistakes is no bad thing, if it helps remind us what we have learned and what not to do moving forwards, but that doesn’t mean we should let ourselves become overwhelmed with what we should not have done.
Sometimes we can’t fix past mistakes, sometimes things are set in stone, or forgotten even, with others moving on. Sometimes however we can fix things. We can face up to our mistakes and try to make situations better. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact sometimes it is anything but easy. It can be terrifying to own up to something, to admit something you aren’t proud of, and yet, when you have dealt with it, it relieves a weight from your shoulders that you possibly didn’t even know you were carrying. Guilt and memories are funny like that. We think we’ve packed them away, we think we have moved on, and that they are safer left in their boxes, but sometimes, opening and unpacking those things, and confronting them, makes us feel so much better in the long run.
It takes time. I couldn’t have dealt with facing up to everything at once. Nor could I have listed everything I wanted to deal with, but actually over time thoughts unearth themselves. Four years into my sobriety I still get confronted with random thoughts from out of the blue, but now I decide what to do with them, whether I want to confront them, or whether actually they are silly memories that I need to let go. That’s important too. We mustn’t feel that we have to deal with every little thing, because everyone makes mistakes or says something wrong, or at the wrong time. It doesn’t make us bad. We aren’t bad people.
I try to remember that no matter what, I can’t change the past, I can’t go back, and do you know what? I wouldn’t want to. I’m a firm believer in thinking everything happens for a reason. The things I’ve done helped me become who I am, and I can’t assume that’s just the good things. It’s all the things, good, bad and indifferent. We need to remember that, and be kind to ourselves, not just the bits we like, but all of who we are as individuals. We should let people in, let them care about us, forgive us, and be kind. Being hard on ourselves is difficult for those around us too. It can be wearing for those who care about us if we are always down on ourselves. Even when we don’t mean to be.
Life throws us challenges, as long as we continue doing the best we can, it’s all we can do, and sometimes, we need to accept that is enough.
Take care, and remember to be kind to yourselves.