When we think back and consider those events that warrant their own mark on our timeline of life events, it is the mistakes, as well as the achievements, that shaped us as individuals. Without them, there would be no nuances to who we are. It is often where we muck up our lives the most that mushroom our greatest spurts of growth. If somewhere along the way we choose to be awake and aware of how our lives are unfolding, we can recognize and see how these mistakes humble us, build character, and give us depth.
Think back to your most recent mistake, a choice made that resulted in an inconvenient or even disastrous outcome. Now muddle through the memory all the way back to the original thought, the point of choice that led you in that direction as opposed to another. If you are able to become uncompromisingly honest with yourself, and strip away any face-saving story that may have been weaved around that decision, chances are you knew there was an element of risk involved, but ventured down that road anyway. Somewhere, either in the recesses of your mind, or even floating around frontally, the information was there; the information that warned of potential danger. Yet you made a choice to see it through, in spite of the inherent risks.
Why, then, when things go awry do we beat ourselves up and succumb to guilt and shame? Or, worse, act like a victim taken painfully advantage of? Imagine if we could choose to look at our lives more honestly and objectively, without all of the emotional excuse-making and denial we, as humans, tend to engage in. Wouldn’t we live more freely, and with less angst, if we could forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and recognize that it is those mistakes that have ultimately enriched our lives the most? Sometimes it takes some time and perspective before we are able to take this powerful step. But without it, we can stay painfully and stubbornly stuck in the past.
A life not lived is the tragedy, not the mistakes that we make. The mistakes are gifts, opportunities to grow and expand and evolve in new ways. If the area in us that is most challenged by our mistakes didn’t need development, we would never have felt the need to go down that rabbit hole to begin with. On some deeper level, we were inviting the universe to put our next lesson before us. Some of us learn that lesson more painfully than others. And however we choose to make the trip – be it kicking and screaming, or grounded and with our eyes wide open, we can be sure that it won’t be our last. Life is full of moments of choice, and there is no way of knowing exactly how something is going to play out. Sometimes it is worth taking a chance, for without taking risks we may end up with a life not lived.
And regardless of the outcome, peace of mind comes from how we frame something in our minds. We get to choose who we are going to be in relationship to the mistakes in our life. We can let it beat us and break us down, or we can choose to acknowledge the lesson learned and let it strengthen who we are at our very core. Knowing this, perhaps we can take accountability for our actions in a way that builds character, and then forgive ourselves and let it go. Whatever we choose, we can gain some peace if we can remember, even if for just a moment, that mistakes are what keep life interesting.
Which begs the question: Were they ever really mistakes?