If you read my last blog, we talked about the monster “enough” and how I deal with it through a process of healthy habits that develop pride. The pride of progressing or working towards where I want to be is truly uplifting in terms of answering the question of if I am enough. For me and maybe for you too, the next thing that often comes up in my mind is my past. The mistakes I have made in my past absolutely have the ability to halt my progress or take me off of my plan of where I want to be if I do not address them properly.
Mistakes are a big part of my life. I consider myself somebody who makes a lot of mistakes. I have been a liar, a cheater, a thief, a drug addict, and probably anything else you can think of. My mistakes have cost me dearly. It is something that has caused pain to my family, my friends, and at some points of my life, anybody that chose to be around me. I try to not let them control me, but they are lessons that will always be with me.
A lot of dealing with my mistakes has to do with forgiveness. A few years ago, I began exercises dealing with me trying to forgive people who have wronged me. I don’t consider myself somebody who holds many grudges, but there are a few. I went through these practices of simply trying to see it through other people’s eyes and finding reasoning for what people did to me. After that practice, it usually is easier to forgive. Once I do forgive those people, it does not have any more power over me and I can move on. I don’t forget, but just chalk it up as a lesson learned.
However, when I began to think about forgiving myself it was a completely different beast. Even with the insight I had on why I did the things I did, they still weighed heavy on me. I expect more from myself. My process to get past this came to me after the biggest series of mistakes of my life. After three years of marriage, I chose to have a series of affairs on my ex-wife that ultimately led to the destruction of my family. When I decided to confront the mistakes and tell my ex-wife anything and everything I had done wrong in the marriage, it was life shattering. My ex-wife was destroyed by it, my family was destroyed, and I had no excuses or lies left that could get me out of it. Everything I thought I was as a person was gone. The pride I had in my upbringing and character was gone. There was no escaping the fact I lied and cheated on my ex-wife.
The journey after that was something that changed the core of my soul. I had to look at everything and truly figure out a way to learn from it and grow. I had to teach my kids there is a good man behind my mistakes. I began counseling, exploring religion, and anything else I could think of to change my ways. Through it, I began a process of forgiving myself not just for this mistake, but for everything. I began to look at my life as a whole. I reached out to people I cared about, but mostly retreated to my shell and just tried to put one foot in front of the other.
I started a process of writing letters to myself. They varied on topic, but I tried to look at how I forgave other people and the things I would say to them if I was writing them letters of forgiveness. I have one letter in particular that stands out in my memory that felt like a breakthrough to me. The letter basically just said that I understood. I understood, it can’t be changed and that if I could take it back I would. The only thing I could do to change was focus on my next step. Hindsight is always 20/20 and if we could just go back and fix our mistakes we would never grow. This revelation was eye-opening to me. I began to realize that I don’t have to be this person anymore. I faced the mistakes, I faced the consequences, and I could use the pain I caused to drive me or I could let it destroy me. The experience gave me the courage to say to myself that it was over. I forgave myself, and now I could move forward and be whoever I want to be. I didn’t have to be that mistake anymore.
I can’t forget what I did to my family, but I can take pride in my response to the situation. The lowest point in my life changed me for the better at a time where it could have gone either way. So, when I start dwelling on my mistakes I can simply understand that I have been there before and I am still here fighting. I can use the missteps and move forward. One of my favorite motivational speakers is a man named Les Brown who has a saying that says “make sure when you fall you land on your back, because if you can look up you can get up”. I truly believe I can overcome any of my mistakes because of this lesson. I may have some consequences I have to be face, but that is part of it. Face them, grow, and move on.
So, when the mistakes of my past come to me and try to stop my progress, all I have to do is understand that it was in my past because I left it there. I beat it before and I can beat it again. It becomes a process of remembering that I am still here because I have stood on each of my mistakes and grown. I have used the weight of my mistakes and become a stronger man. I start to believe in my strength and believe that I can be whoever I want to be. There is nothing I have done that has stopped me yet, so why not make my future whatever I want?
Is there a mistake that is in your past that holds you back from being what you want to be? Did you face it? Did you suffer the consequences? Are you still here? You are tougher than you imagine and I challenge you to forgive yourself and understand you can let go of those mistakes. There is not a perfect person on this planet. Mistakes are a part of life. If you can live with that you can use your experience, as humans have done since the beginning of existence, and grow. You don’t want to be a liar? Tell the truth. You don’t want to be lazy? Do something. You want to be better at something? Work at it. Know that you determine what you are. People can hang onto your mistakes if they want, but you have the ability to move on and make positive changes regardless of other’s opinions of you. You can do whatever you set your mind on, don’t listen to those monsters that try to stop your progress and keep you from growing. Just learn from mistakes, face consequences, let go, and keep moving forward.