Letting Go of the Past Challenge – Day 3: Learn from Past Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes – EVERYONE. Too often, however, we as perfectly imperfect people dwell on our mistakes and our past. We relive the experiences (especially the negative or challenging ones) over and over to the point where we obsess about them. That makes it difficult to move on with our lives.

You may have some experiences in the past where you embarrassed yourself. To help you move on, keep in mind that celebrities and politicians embarrass themselves all the time. They still manage to continue with their lives, however, and do good, if not great work.

When considering celebrities, it may seem as though they come out ahead whenever there is controversy – the situations they are involved in often give them the exposure they want for their careers – the old adage that “Any publicity is good publicity” seems to be how they run their lives.

The average person, however – you and I included – doesn’t have that luxury. What we can learn from celebrities, however, is that their experiences reinforce the fact that human beings have short memories, overall. If this wasn’t true, those famous (infamous?) celebrities wouldn’t be able to overcome the controversial situations they find themselves in.

The only true mistake in all of this – the good experiences and the challenging ones – is not learning from the challenges and mistakes  you find yourself in. There is always a lesson to be learned when you make a mistake or are overcome by a challenge.

People love to use the phrase, “Make lemonade from lemons!” That’s a great saying to remember whenever you make a mistake, even if it’s hard to remember in the moment.

It’s true that you can’t change the past – no matter how much you might want to. You know that deep down, right? One way to handle your past experiences is to stop just thinking about them and reliving them and DEAL with them.

Try this method: write down what happened, in as much detail as you can remember. This might be uncomfortable, but hang in there – the process is worth it. The act of writing the experience down can help you determine what’s the lesson you should try to learn and how you can avoid those challenges in the future.

Armed with that knowledge, you can spot “danger signs” that let you know a similar experience is on the horizon and change your actions, your thinking and your path to avoid a repeat of the situation. Once you’ve identified the pattern and any necessary changes needed, you can put the experience in the past, move forward, and start to forget about them.

If your mistakes involve others and you wronged them, this’ll be a bit more delicate, and even more necessary to deal with. You’ll need to apologize for what you’ve done and offer to make the situation right somehow. There is no guarantee they’ll accept your apology or your solution.

No matter what their answer, YOU must make the good faith effort to rectify the situation. There’s only so much you can do, but you must do it. If you’re genuinely sorry and they can’t accept what you did or your apology, then you’ll simply need to focus on your life and move forward. Give it some time – perhaps you can approach them again in the future, after some time has passed – but don’t become a hostage to the situation.

If you know of people who’ve made similar mistakes as the one you made, reach out to them and ask how they handled their mistakes. Also, ask how they overcame them and moved on. These people will listen and understand your situation better than anyone else, because they’ve “been there, done that”.

They may even have additional resources they can point you to, depending on the circumstances. If nothing else, they can be there for you whenever you need to talk, and share their experiences and wisdom.