November 13, 2020

To Hell with Guilt Trips—I’m Turning my Mistakes Into Valuable Life Lessons.


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Letting go is often easier said than done—at least it is for me.

I often wonder why I remember things so well, especially the things that I’d rather forget, but it’s not intentional. I don’t even hold grudges because not only I remember things about people, I remember things about myself too.

Sometimes, my thoughts come out of nowhere, and I suddenly get caught up in a spin, remembering something I said years ago. I doubt anyone else would even remember this stuff, and yet, there I am, beating myself up about it.

I doubt I am the only one like that, although when I mention it, many people tell me I just need to let things go and forget about it.

I often say that we can’t change the past, so there’s no point in regretting the things that got us to where we are at now. My mistakes have gained me my sobriety, and for that, I am eternally grateful, but of course, that doesn’t mean I am proud of everything in my past.

In many ways, our mistakes shape who we are. We grow, we learn, and we can’t always get everything right. After all, we are humans. I suppose the most important thing is to learn from our mistakes, try not to repeat them, and use them for the good, rather than continually reminding ourselves what failures we are—but 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 not a bad thing if it reminds us of what we have learned and about what not to do as we move forward. 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. At other times, 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 we aren’t proud of, and yet, when we deal with it, it takes a weight off our shoulders that we possibly didn’t know we were carrying.

Guilt and memories are funny. 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, unpacking, 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 over time, thoughts unearth themselves. Four years into my sobriety and 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 decide that they are silly memories that I need to put behind.

That’s important too. We mustn’t feel that we have to deal with every little thing because everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t make us bad people. 

I try to remember that no matter what, I can’t change the past, I can’t go back, and actually, I wouldn’t want to. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. The things I did have 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 feeling down, even when we don’t mean to be.

Life throws us challenges. But as long as we continue doing the best we can, it’s all we can do, and sometimes, we need to accept that it is enough.

Take care and remember to be kind to yourself.



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