None of us can change the past, no matter how much we want to. Therefore, we learn to live with obsessive thoughts “I wonder what would happen if…” and try to get used to the constant regret that accompanies our every mistake.
To cope with such an influx of emotions, the approach of psychologists Shelly Carson and Ellen Langer, who divide mistakes into “good” and “bad”, will help. They differ only in our reaction – we learn from the “good” ones, and we are desperately ashamed of the “bad” ones.
To identify your “bad” mistakes, do one simple task – continue the phrase “I’m sorry that …”. This way you will know what regrets to work with. And to turn “bad” mistakes into “good” ones, use five basic strategies.
1. Embrace joys and hardships equally
To change the perception of events that occur in our lives, you need to look into yourself. This is where mindfulness management comes in handy.
Focus on your breath or try any other meditation practice that you enjoy. Listen to your thoughts and feelings, accept what is happening in your life and consider possible scenarios. Yes, you cannot change the past, but you can choose the future.
2. Be kind to yourself
Author of the book Self-Compassion. About the power of compassion and kindness to yourself ”Christine Neff is sure that it is self-compassion that helps to accept yourself. She suggests trying a practice that combines inner strength and self-love.
To do this, ask yourself two important questions:
- How can I show self-compassion when dealing with my mistakes?
- How to give yourself the opportunity to think about the current situation and learn from it the necessary lessons?
The answers will help you understand how to work through past mistakes without blaming yourself for them.
3. Study yourself
To do this, try asking yourself leading questions:
- What can this experience teach me?
- If I were in that situation again, what would I do differently? How would you change yourself?
- What do I need to learn to make the right decision next time?
- What advice would I give to someone in the same situation?
- What thoughts, habits, or character traits do I need to work on to avoid making the same mistake again?
4. Determine what you can and cannot change
Not all mistakes can be corrected. Sometimes the worst has already happened, and the only thing you can do is to accept it. Ask yourself if you can make a difference. Just be honest with yourself: is what happened just one unfortunate mistake or a whole chain of reckless decisions?
“We can’t choose the cards we’re dealt, but we can choose how we play them,” says Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch.
If your mistake hurt another person, try not just to apologize, but to listen to him. After that, you can share your thoughts and tell what this situation has taught you and what you plan to do next.
Randy Pausch identified three important parts that any apology should consist of:
- Mention what you did wrong.
- Sorry for the pain you caused.
- The question is what can be done to improve the situation.
5. Motivate yourself
Find an inspirational phrase that will help you move on through difficult times. You can repeat it to yourself or make it a screensaver on your phone – as long as it makes you feel better.
For believers, and perhaps not only them, the prayer of the German theologian Karl Etinger will suit: “Lord, give me peace of mind to accept what I cannot change, give me the courage to change what I can change, and give me the wisdom to distinguish one from another.”