There are so many rules we follow every day. Some are very “black and white” like speed limits, wearing clothing in public, and not killing your obnoxious coworker. Others, not so much. Those can be influenced by a myriad of factors including religious upbringing, political views, past experiences, and even our current environments. Peer pressure doesn’t end with college. But, at the end of the day, the rules that truly matter are the ones in your own heart – the ones that you have solidly in place, to guide and govern your own behaviors. Those are the ones we answer to in the mirror.
Sometimes our rules can be bent, and others even broken. This shows growth and potential for change; a willingness not to sit, stagnant and rotting in our own insecurities. It can be confusing to tell the difference at times, and no one really masters the finer details of the process. The barometer is basically how it feels when you’re done. If it feels uncomfortable, but kinda good, like it has potential to be a truly positive thing, then it was right. If you look in the mirror and can only say, “What the hell were you thinking?” Well, you can pretty much conclude that you scored one in the “Oops” column.
So let’s say you effed one up. What do you do with it? Some would cry, remind themselves what a horrible person they are, demonize their ability to even choose their own socks, and elude forgiveness for the next decade or so. Productive? Uh, no. Time to grow up, put the big kid under-roos on, and face it. Spend some time in your head, figure out why you made the bad move. Then comes the tough part. Beating the snot out of our own psyches is incredibly damaging, but it’s actually a heck of a lot easier than the alternative. The tough part is learning the lesson, moving on, and letting go.
This is about where I am right now. I’ve faced myself in the mirror, with a rueful, “Niiiiice one there, Mick. Well done.” I’ve also spent some time going back through – why did I make the choices I made? What made me choose one path over another, especially when I knew damn well what I was doing was wrong? (Remember, now…it doesn’t have to be anyone’s definition of “wrong” but your own.) I found that I disliked the answers I found even more than actually coming to the conclusion that I’d scored myself an Oops. This is not a fun process. But now it’s time for the real work. It’s time to learn it, figure out how to not do it again, and to then let it go.
Why is it so hard for us to forgive ourselves? We would never treat our friends or our family with such derision, such disdain. Why can we not figure out how to accept, learn, and let go? No one can do this part for us; it’s a learned skill that takes years to hone. And I’m still working on mine.