Mistakes: Our Most Faithful Teachers

A key need of any Re-booter is the ability to forgive oneself. We’ve all made mistakes and experienced the guilt that accompanies those errors in judgment. If we were perfect, none of us would need to be here; so, I, for one, take comfort from the fact that we’re all on this journey together.


In many respects, I believe it can be harder to forgive ourself than it is to forgive those who have trespassed against us. I say this because, usually, the mistakes we make involve errors in judgment when we have had ample warning that we were heading down the wrong path. Alas, I know this condition all too well. There were many red flags to warn me off from committing myself too deeply in a relationship that straddled the professional and the personal and I still pushed forward—I did so based on  a myriad of reasons and by the time I allowed myself to acknowledge my concerns, I believed there was just too much at stake not to continue. When the whole thing blew up in my face, there was plenty of blame to go around, but much of it I aimed at myself.


Has anything similar ever happened to you? Have you played a role in your own misery? Do you cringe when you think about all the signs you ignored? The off ramps you could’ve taken? The blind insistence that it would “all work out?” And the worst part of it is, you can’t fool yourself, so no matter what you might try to argue back, that condemning voice won’t be silenced.


Guilt is a wasted emotion—it accomplishes nothing. Even taking responsibility for something you’ve done means little unless you also take active steps to make amends. How might you make amends to yourself? Well, the first step is to resolve not to be so willfully stupid again. There! See? You’ve already improved your lot in life. Even if you do nothing else about this mistake, you’ve accomplished something. Compassion can be a hard thing to come by—especially self-compassion—but I believe that if you can’t, somehow, find it in your heart to forgive yourself, how in the world will you truly practice compassion for another?


Waging war against oneself is easy because the target is hogtied, unable to escape. Besides, we usually hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do others, so our rage is greater when we fail. But think about how this attitude impacts those around you, especially your children. They watch what you do and then apply this sick standard to themselves. Is this what you want for them? Children are like sponges, you know that. So, if you don’t want your kids to do this, why is it ok for you to do this to yourself? There’s no virtue in self-flagellation. Nobody admires it–remember that creepy bloke from The Da Vinci Code? Yuck.


Forgiving yourself isn’t always easy, for all sorts of reasons, but it’s crucial that you do so. Each of us makes mistakes; the beauty of doing so is that we can learn from them. We should learn from them—they are our most faithful teachers. We’ll get a whole lot further in life if we make this the goal, rather some ill-placed idea that dragging around our guilt and regret is something we deserve.


What mistake has been bothering you that you really need to forgive yourself for and move beyond?


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One Response to “Mistakes: Our Most Faithful Teachers”

  1. Deborah La Gorce Says:

    This is spot on, and exquisitely written.

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