“It’s not how we make mistakes but how we correct them that define us.”
- Rachel Wolchin
I try my best to live in integrity. I’ve been working on that for a while now. You know, the whole doing the right thing when no one is watching. Most times, I seem to get this right. But I’m not perfect and from time to time I fall short of the expectations I set for myself.
I fell short last week. I did something that was out of character. It wasn’t based in self-love or confidence, but instead insecurity and fear. I violated trust, jeopardized a friendship and disappointed someone who means the world to me.
Accepting that I had reverted to old habits and defense mechanisms was disturbing. I’ve worked hard over the last several years to eradicate myself of some of these old ways of thinking. But the work is never really done.
Fear is always lingering…
It’s always in the back of my mind. So I have to stay vigilant about it. And I usually am. I usually have the ability to check my feelings and put feelings that are based in fear aside. Work through them to find the cause of that fear and then assure myself that living in fear is futile. After going through this process I can usually reaffirm myself and make a decision based in self-love instead of fear.
But this time I didn’t. I let fears brew in my spirit for weeks. I didn’t express them. I didn’t address them. Instead I fed them. And what you feed grows. So naturally, the first opportunity I had to act on those fears, I did. And it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t cute. It wasn’t me. Instead it caused much shame and guilt and days later I still cringe when I think about it.
So the question is what do you do when you have acted outside of yourself? I know I can be very hard on myself when I fall short. Often times in the past one shortcoming has been the catalyst to a string of other negative behaviors. Watching someone experience hurt or disappointment by my actions is a hard pill to swallow, but the feeling of frustration in myself is where the real heartbreak comes in. Even after all the work I’ve done, times like these are evidence of all the work still left to do.
But spending time beating myself up about it is fruitless. Wallowing in self-pity is pointless. It brings no positivity to my life. In fact, it only makes it easier for me to continue in destructive patterns. So instead of taking this approach, I’ve learned how to pause and reflect so that I can find the underlying root of my actions.
Everything we do is a symptom of our emotional wellbeing. When we are emotionally secure, we behave in ways that reflect that. But when our emotional stability is compromised, it is displayed in our thoughts, feelings and ultimately actions. So it is important to keep your emotions grounded in what is true, what is pure and what is positive.
However, doing this is much harder than we think. Before we can truly live in a positive place, we have to move from the negative one. We have to go through the pain and heartache that we often suppress in order to make it to the peace and hope that we desire. We have to offload the negative to make room for the positive. That is the tradeoff.
Mistakes suck and they often come with consequences that suck too. But part of growing up, part of being free, is learning from them. Taking responsibility for them, apologizing, making amends and addressing the part of your broken spirit that caused you to make that decision in the first place.
And in reality, that’s all you can do when you make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Learn from the experience. Seek forgiveness from others. Make amends. And move on.
Because the biggest mistake, is not learning from your mistakes. God will continue to send you the same lesson until you finally learn it.
As I ALWAYS say…life is a journey. Self-discovery is a journey. Self-love and acceptance is a journey. And every journey has bumps, detours and pitt stops. You just have to take the best part of each experience and carry it with you as you travel…
I refuse to allow a mistake, a lapse in judgment, a momentary retreat to stop me from continuing on this journey. After all I am still strong, I am still courageous and I am still GREAT! And guess what…YOU ARE TOO!