Mistakes are a part of growing up, but why do we use this against ourselves? Charlotte Lloyd breaks down six steps to live life without regret and to forgive yourself.
Have you ever felt like there was this turning point in your life? Like you suddenly went from being one person all your life and you ended up just feeling fully grown up? Like you just grew up overnight, with the click of your fingers? This happened to me on my 20th birthday, and although I still have all the same morals and values, personality, and much more, I felt different. But from that moment and still, to this day, I have made so many mistakes that are a natural part of growing up. None of us are expected to be perfect,t and how can we be expected to grow up in the best way possible without knowing what not to do and forgiving ourselves in the process?
For most of us students, this time of our lives some would say are the best, but are also when we make the most mistakes and take life by the reins before we are looked at as ‘knowing what to do.’ For a lot of us, moving out of home, starting university, and becoming much more independent than we once knew, can only mean that mistakes are a part of living. As kids, we looked forward to growing up, only for our parents to turn around and say, ‘Don’t wish your life away.’ We never really realise how much responsibility comes with being a full-fledged adult until we are immersed in it. There will come a point (or so I am told) where we will be expected to have the answers, even if we don’t. So while we can, we need to make as many mistakes as possible while our ties are limited and the consequences are little…and forgiving ourselves in the process.
Below are six steps to living life without regret and forgiving yourself and your mistakes:
1. Don’t Dwell
Sometimes one of the quickest reactions to have after making a mistake or failing is to dwell on it. I’m the worst for it. Thinking of all the consequences and stupid decisions that were made. Thinking if things would have been different. But often the worse mistake is not the mistake itself, but what you do next that counts. Dwelling on a problem or an issue only makes the what-ifs seem more heavy and overwhelming. This can also make you apprehensive about situations similar that would come up in the future.
2. Silence Your Inner Critic
This is easier said than done and is one of the hardest things to put into practice on a regular basis. More often than not, especially in situations of mistakes, our own worse critics are ourselves. Most of what we criticise about ourselves people don’t even notice. I’m the worst for falling victim to the supposed comments that people would be making. But the fact that this was all made up in my head meant that my actions made me stand-offish and self-critical in almost every aspect of my life. Silencing the inner critic means that with every negative we should counteract this with a positive. One hurtful comment changing into a positive.
3. Always Have Something on the Horizon
One of my biggest beliefs is that if you have something to always look forward to, this can get you through some of your toughest times. The ideal for this is always having a holiday to look forward to. During pre-covid this was obviously not a second-thought but with restrictions meaning an indefinite ban on travel outside of Aus, my number one recommendation would be social events. Some of my best times have been events, parties, girl’s nights out, birthdays, brunches…any chance I can get to spend some much-needed time socialising. Another major thing to look forward to if you’ve just moved out of home and holding something heavy is making time to see your family. With you travelling home or vice versa, sometimes mum’s cooking and family life can make the distraction you need.
4. Call a Friend
Like the one above, having close friends for support during mistakes and just life, in general, can make all the difference. Even if you’re not taking full advantage, sometimes just knowing they’re there if you need them is enough. To watch a movie, head to the shopping center for some therapy or a night out, your friends can give you the advice you need or become the distraction that keeps you from dwelling on it all.
5. Endorphins Are Your Best Friend
Exercise, our most loved and hated. For me, exercise is both for the social aspect and the physical health aspect. And while there have been those who call this out and say it doesn’t work, I truly believe that physical activity not only makes you feel happier, it makes you feel accomplished and this can also push you outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Exercise gets those endorphins flowing and allows for you to feel you’re best when you’re actually not.
6. Treat Yourself
Nothing says moving on like booking in a much-needed facial or some relaxation by the beach. I know people say things like ‘when you treat yourself too much, it’s no longer treating yourself’, and that is true. But when I’m feeling down, one of the best cures is spending the money I don’t have on maybe a piece of clothing, some self-care like a hair or brow appointment, or even just having some takeaway for the night. Mistakes aren’t meant to be looked at as punishments, and by doing something you love, this can be just the push you need to use this mistake as a turning point and a lesson for next time.