As difficult as it may be to accept, everyone has a past full of experiences that shaped them into the person they are today. Your life is constructed by the decisions, successes, and mistakes that you have made. In a journey toward healing and mental wellness, it is important to reflect on the past, learn from it, and forgive yourself.
This step of forgiveness is almost always easier said than done. However, if you do not learn how to properly release yourself from your past mistakes, they can have a huge impact on your daily life and functioning. In some cases, the past can even affect the relationships you currently have with others and yourself. You must forgive yourself and others to make progress in treatment, recovery, and life.
Mistakes are necessary to learn from life’s experiences. They help shape your perspective and teach you so much about yourself. The first step in letting go of your past mistakes is to analyze why you made the decision and what impact it had. Often, people make mistakes because that was genuinely the best decision at the time. When you begin to understand what brought you to your choice of action, it becomes easier for you to relate to the person you were at that time. You understand that you were doing the best you could with the information and experience you had at the time.
The next important step is to understand what the impact of your mistake was. Perhaps it was something small that only lasted a day. In other situations, it could have altered your life in one way or another. When you take a look at the impact of your past decisions, you will be able to identify the next course of action.
Ask yourself, “what’s the next step? Knowing that I made that decision, what can I do about it now?” This question allows you to pinpoint a course of action that is centered on forgiving yourself. If you find that there is nothing you can do at this moment to change what happened in the past, now is the perfect time to reframe your outlook. Instead of categorizing the past as a mistake, start thinking about it as necessary for you to be where you are now. This is not easy, but it is important. Doing so helps you accept the past for what it is.
While it is common to think back on the mistakes you made, try thinking about the situations where you didn’t make a mistake. There is always room to recognize the good things you did in the past and take pride in how you showed up for yourself. Sometimes, people sweep the successes under the rug because they take up less space in the brain than the negatives. Those choices aren’t what consumes your mind for years on end, but they are equally important. Congratulate yourself for the mistakes you didn’t make, and that will help on your journey to better mental health.
Practice kindness and gentleness towards yourself in every stage of life. Be kind to who you are right now, and be gentle with who you were in the past. It is common for people to be kinder to the people around them than themselves. In reality, each moment of your life has taught you lessons. Next, you will need to work towards accepting your own forgiveness. This can be done through mindfulness practices or through steady work with a licensed therapist. Exercises like these give you room to offer up forgiveness for all of the choices you have made.
Past mistakes can lead to low self-esteem and low self-confidence in future decision-making. You may shy away from new opportunities because you are too afraid to make the wrong decision. That fear may be crippling and can lead you to not making any decisions at all. When you look towards your future and imagine what you want for your life, you have to be able to acknowledge and accept the past as well.
Recognizing that not all mistakes are “bad” helps to create a positive relationship with yourself, giving you the chance to look at new situations with a clear perspective You can take the knowledge that you learned from the past without bringing the burden of the mistake. As you accept, learn, and heal from the past, you can imagine a brighter future for yourself.
While it’s easy to say that the past is in the past, understanding its effect on the present is crucial. We are who we are because of the experiences, successes, and mistakes we’ve made in our lives. However, you should be kind to yourself when examining your past mistakes. Do your best to move forward in your life instead of letting the past drag you down. At The Kimberly Center, we can help you examine your past and better understand how it shaped you without letting it impact your current life. Located in the beautiful Fort Myers in southwestern Florida, The Kimberly Center specializes in treating substance use and mental health, providing a safe place for those who are struggling. We offer many treatment plans and modalities to help you get the care that you need on the recovery path. For more information about how we can help, call us today at (855) 452-3683.