I’m confident that I am not alone when I say that out of everyone, I’m the hardest on myself. This is a huge revelation if like me you thought your issues were with people, and not the person that stares back at you when looking in the mirror. It’s easy to believe that people are the problem since we can associate a lot of the bad in our lives with persons, places, and things. But, frequently the underlying problem lies within.
Don’t we all wish at certain times to have been able to handle people and problems differently? Whenever I encounter a person I had a bad experience with, my wonderful memory immediately remembers who I was when it happened. There are times when I am angry, embarrassed, and feel sorry about my choices. Life’s circumstances can often catch us off guard to seem like we are blindly walking through it, causing us to reflect on our actions by saying “What was I thinking or what substance was I on?”
Ever bump into an ex and conclude you must have had zero self- respect at that time?
Ever bump into an old bully and ask yourself what were you so scared of?
Ever bump into a fake friend you shouldn’t have trusted and ask yourself why you couldn’t see through them, and why you were so desperate for friendship?
Ever see people you bent over backwards for that didn’t appreciate it, and you wish you would have just said “NO” too?
The list could go on and on. Most of us can relate to those examples because interacting, trusting, and helping people is apart of life. Our experiences are supposed to make us into better people, and allow us to prevent the same pain for others. I just wish there didn’t have to be so many mistakes in the process of becoming a better person.
What I find to be most interesting, is how much time is spent on trying to figure out why we permitted ourselves to endure such mistreatment in the first place? One simple explanation is we didn’t think we deserved to be treated better. If we don’t believe it, how can we expect someone else to? A big truth in life is that you show people how to treat you. It’s wrong to assume that people will automatically treat you well. We cannot control if someone decides to treat us badly, but we definitely can control how long it continues. If you are naturally kind, giving, or “soft hearted” like me, this can present a challenge because you will have to set boundaries for what you won’t allow yourself to do or accept. Don’t take self- respect lightly. Ask yourself how you would feel before moving forward with certain choices. Would you be proud or would you feel like you let yourself down?
Another reason we endure mistreatment is we insist on reducing ourselves to fit in environments or with people we are not meant to be with. They know we don’t belong there and subconsciously we know it too. Until we are willing to admit we deserve better, accept it, and move on, they will keep showing us with their behavior that we do.
Without a moment’s notice a bad memory or a person can pop back into our lives that remind us of when we were not as strong and not as smart as we are today. To let the guilt go of not always being good to ourselves, it behooves us to practice techniques that will help us to forgive and move past mistakes that have been made by us and others.
To begin FORGIVING, try the following:
- Stop being hard on yourself! You were who you were, and now you are who you are. You only can use what you have at that moment to make the best decisions. Some problems come when we are not at our best selves. Accept there was room for growth and you have grown.
- Realize that changing the not so great parts of ourselves takes time, especially if you are teaching yourself how to be better. We eventually get it, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
- Be accountable for your actions, but don’t accept the blame for someone else’s mistakes.
- Often take time to focus on all the great things about yourself. Sure you need to improve in some areas but there is plenty that makes you AWESOME.
- Forgive others. The best benefit to doing so is you will get to a place where it’s not about them, it’s about you. And, with that empowerment you can make some real changes to your life.
- Pray. Pray about the small and the large. Some of my worst decisions were made because I moved forward without talking to God. I chose to go after what I wanted, thinking the issues were not that big of a deal, however minor can turn into major fast. Some of my best decisions, while hard to make and stick through, in the end worked out better because I prayed first.
I hope my thoughts have helped you with letting go of mistakes from the past and letting yourself off the hook for not knowing how to do everything right all the time, particularly with yourself.
All the best,
Rachel Bryant Lundy