“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I bet you’ve made a lot of mistakes in your past. I have too – we all have. But however unpleasant these mistakes may seem, it’s a part of life that we need to learn to accept and eventually get over.
The past is in the past, and no amount of thinking and worrying can change that. By acknowledging that our past mistakes are outside of our control, we can more easily let go of these mistakes and stop beating ourselves up over them.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s completely natural to feel bad every now and then. In some ways, I think emotions like depression, guilt, and anger can actually serve a positive function in our lives.
At the same time, we have to be careful not to become too attached.
We have to think of these negative emotions and past events in our life as something to learn from and eventually let go of. The more we wallow in these emotions, without solution-oriented thinking, the more we feed into them and let them dictate our lives. That’s when these emotions become unhelpful, and even “addictive” in some cases.
Here are some tips and perspectives to help you stop beating yourself up over past mistakes:
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes at times, you are no different.
- You probably tried your best given the time and situation.
- Be honest about how these mistakes make you feel (frustrated, anger, guilty, sad, etc.) – without attaching these emotions or becoming addicted to them.
- Learn whatever lessons you can from the experience.
- Focus on what you can do now or in the near future to avoid repeating these mistakes.
- Know that the future will probably bring even more obstacles and failures. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.
- Life is a constantly unfolding process, no single event can dictate the rest of your life, so don’t pretend that it does.
By the end of the day, it’s simply not worth it to be distracted by things that are no longer in our control. It’s a waste of both physical and mental resources.
Your past has shaped you to become the person you are today, but only your actions from here forward will shape who you become in the future.
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