Almost everyone thinks nasty things about themselves throughout their life. It’s especially easy to beat yourself up if you believe you’ve screwed up and made a mistake. Your mind won’t let it go, and you end up carrying around guilt, shame and even anger.
It’s time to stop the internal beatings and move on. Seriously, it’s time. To help you do that, I’ve assembled some tips to help you find forgiveness and peace of mind no matter what you’ve done.
Uncover Where Your Self-Bullying Arises From
If you hate making mistakes, it’s likely that particular fear came from your upbringing. As a child, you may have been punished and berated whenever you slipped up. You were conditioned to believe you were a failure whenever you made a mistake or didn’t live up to expectations.
Rather than recognizing mistakes are an inevitable part of life, you were led to feel shame and guilt for any misstep. You learned to unleash the harsh inner critic rather than feel compassion, patience and kindness toward yourself. You’ve been programmed (unconsciously?) to avoid criticism, imperfection and mistakes in order to be loved, accepted and valued. That may have caused a conditioned automatic response. What you’ve learned, you can unlearn.
“You do not have to suffer from regret. You can stop beating yourself up; it is not serving you. Learn, take action, forgive and stop looking behind you. Turn around. See what is right in front of you, and better yet, what lies ahead.”
When you realize that problems and mistakes are a part of life, then you stop being afraid and resisting them. More importantly, you stop criticizing yourself when you make a mistake. Living a full life involves exploration and growth, not perfection and always playing it safe.
It may seem that your inner critic helps you achieve your goals by pointing out your flaws and the error of your ways, but it’s actually more harmful than helpful. Using negative self-talk is choosing punishment instead of reward. While punishment may deter certain behaviors, it’s short-term. Rewards are much better at creating new and lasting behaviors.
When your inner critic repeatedly labels you in a negative way, it forms a demoralizing self-image and shapes limiting beliefs about yourself. Let’s be clear, negative self-talk is never ever appropriate. Loving yourself is the absence of negativity toward yourself—that means no self-criticism, self-judgments, and comparisons. Treat yourself with kindness, gentleness and patience as you learn to navigate this crazy world.
If you feel you made a mistake, rather than focus on what you did wrong, shift your attention and energy to what you did well and what you can improve on next time. Treat yourself like you would a friend in that same situation. You certainly wouldn’t encourage them to be hard on themselves.
Recognize Your Soul Likely Wanted You to Experience “Mistakes”
Often what you term a “mistake” is actually an experience that your soul intended you to go through. Let me repeat that: What you perceive as a “mistake” is likely a growth opportunity your soul wanted you to experience. For instance, if you are here to master deeper levels of forgiveness, then you’ll need to go through experiences that require forgiving others and yourself. And remember, on a soul level, everyone signed up to go through these experiences.
Earth is a free-will planet. You choose how you grow as a soul here. You don’t make mistakes. Sure, there’s better, healthier choices but you’re going to learn one way or another from whatever you choose. Some of your most painful experiences teach you the most and generate tremendous soul growth.
If your soul wants you to master richer levels of self-love, you may become obese. It’s your soul’s intention for you to learn to love yourself regardless of what the scale reflects or societal beliefs. Stop reprimanding yourself and start loving yourself as the true way out of your circumstances.
It’s possible your soul intended you to experience alcoholism and/or drug addiction as a means to experience powerlessness. Your soul also wants you to now heal and come out the other side. You don’t need the alcoholism or drug addiction in your life anymore. Again, you heal it through love and compassion for yourself, not berating yourself.
Stop Rehashing Past Missteps
“Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But some mistakes will teach you great lessons and make you a better person.” —Anonymous
Wise people don’t dwell on past mistakes. Rather than repeating the same mistakes, they learn the lesson and use those experiences to make better choices in the future. They know life is simply a learning process which involves exploration and growth. By discovering what doesn’t work, you gain knowledge and become empowered to create a better life.
Acknowledge that you’re going to make mistakes. They are unavoidable. It’s a fact of life. Rather than agonizing over them, change your perspective and start thinking of mistakes as learning opportunities. Learn from them and recognize where you need to make some changes. They are showing you how to create the best possible version of yourself.
It’s important to let go of the past and start living in the present. The next time you make a mistake, instead of beating yourself up about it, use the knowledge gained to grow and move on.
Release Negative Self-Talk
If you’re feeling bad about yourself for your continued mistakes and shortcomings, see things from a bigger perspective. You may scold yourself for eating two slices of your spouse’s birthday cake because you’ve vowed to eliminate all sweets. That haranguing then triggers the internal critic to go off on a tangent how it’s no wonder you’re only down 10 pounds instead of the intended 30.
That’s exactly the time when you need to see things from a different point of view. You’re eating habits aren’t perfect but over the past year, you have significantly cut back on sugar, developed a regular exercise routine and are down a size. The scale may not reflect the numbers you’d like to see but recognize the progress you’ve made over the weeks, months and year. We’re so quick to beat ourselves up but slow to appreciate our accomplishments.
Pay attention more often to your inner monologue. Being self-critical is usually habitual, often undetected, and can easily get out of hand. Make a mistake and you’ve opened the floodgates. If you wouldn’t say those things to someone you like and respect, you shouldn’t say them to yourself, either.
Beating yourself up about making a mistake doesn’t change anything. It just steals your happiness and self-esteem. Your life will be immensely easier and far more enjoyable if you remember that you’re human. Nobody’s perfect. And that’s okay.
Show yourself some compassion. It’s not easy to be on this planet. Choose to like yourself no matter what you’ve done in the past. Extend self-kindness especially when you’re having a hard time, have blundered or are feeling inadequate. While you’re at it, give yourself some love. If you’re going to be truly happy, you need just one person to love you—you.