We are human. Humans make mistakes. We learn, even as children, from our mistakes so that hopefully we dont repeat them. We make bad choices, say hurtful things from time to time, don’t always think for ourselves and follow the crowd, but most of us know the difference between right and wrong. The people who can’t distinguish between right and wrong, who cant step back and evaluate their part, are the ones with which we need to be very concerned.
A good many of us are acutely aware of the mistakes we make and can also be our harshest critics. Not only do we make some bad choices, but we make ourselves feel terrible about making them. Often, this can be a consequence of harsh parenting during childhood and sometimes we just come about this naturally due to temperament with which we are born. In my clinical practice, I see this all too often- people are quick to berate themselves for mistakes or falling short of expectations of self or others. It is a much more challenging task to view ourselves with understanding and compassion rather than self-hatred. We must learn to be empathic with ourselves so that we may learn from our shortcomings and therefore grow and become the selves we aspire to. Understanding and empathy promotes growth. Derision and anger only destroy our progress.
Most of us need to learn to forgive ourselves after doing something unacceptable. We need to learn that we are not bad, that one can do something wrong and not turn into a bad person. By accepting ourselves, we are accepting the good AND the bad parts. When we make a mistake, it doesnt make us all bad. Feeling badly helps us see different sides of ourselves, that we are not perfect.
We make mistakes, we learn, we grow. Forgiving oneself takes courage and promotes healing. As Bill Gates said: it is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.