It is so easy for us to berate ourselves about mistakes we make. Poor mental health persists if we constantly dwell on our mistakes and don’t move forward to self-forgiveness.
Thoughts like "I should have said this, done that, what was I thinking, if only…” can lead to stress, sleep issues, physical problems and even self-loathing and shame. Shame and self-loathing is guilt on steroids. Believing that you are a terrible and wicked person, unworthy of compassion is a toxic pit that can lead to despair and depression.
How can we get to a place where we can see the effects of our choices and actions when they are harmful to ourselves and others? What is an alternative path to self-loathing and shame?
First, trust the fact that you are not perfect and that mistakes are a natural part of growth and wisdom. If you can let go of perfectionistic thinking and shift to purposeful thinking, you are on the right path!
Second, accept that guilt is an inherent part of our humanity which assists us to correct our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions. It’s important when we sense guilt to assess our words and actions and own our mistakes.
Allowing the feelings of remorse leads us to take the next step toward resolution.
Third, call yourself to positive action. Consider how you could fix your mistake through reparation. This being the repairing of property, relationship, an increase of effort or time or whatever is needed to correct your error.
Finally, learn from your mistake and plan for how you might do things differently the next time and move forward. Remember having compassion and empathy for yourself and others allows you to live a life filled with joy instead of resentment.
Blog post written by Wellness Contributor Dawn Rayburn, EDS, NBCT, LPC for Embrace Candles.