Failures are a part of life, we live in a fallen world and that isn’t going to change and something we can’t control. Some times the failure has something to do with other people and what they did, but there is always a part that you play in it. This was a difficult concept for me to grasp for many years. I did what so many of us do and blame shift to others and not owning up to my own stuff. Even if 99% of the failure was on someone else’s part, I have learned that we always play a part and it is never just wholly someone else entirely. Now, don’t confuse this with evil or injustice, I am speak specifically to something that you undertook and it didn’t work out the way you wanted. Much of what I talk about below can also help you with this if that happened to be the case, but for this topic I am speaking directly to something you know you were actively engaged in and chose. You didn’t achieve your goal, the relationship didn’t pan out the way you had planed, or your plans didn’t work out the way you wanted. If you do what I did for so many years and shift all of the blame, you will never learn, you will never grow, and you will carry this “muck” with you and never be able to heal from the experience that can help you be better tomorrow than what you were today.
So how do you do this, how do you do what so many of us do and not shift all of the blame and use this to improve? First, examine what happened, and be open to the fact that you played a part. Even if it is only 1%, own it! We always have choices, and we are free to make them ourselves. You will never be able to control another person, how they will act, or what choices they will make, but you absolutely control the choices you make. Learn from them, examine them, and know what you did. You do this by taking time. In our world of instant gratification, we often think that time is our enemy, but time is a gift. It allows us to heal, it allows us to learn, and if we don’t take the time to do this we will be doomed to make the same mistakes again.
Here is another hard one, forgive! This is crucial, you must forgive yourself to start. You are not bad because you made a mistake or something went wrong, it just makes you like everyone else, a flawed human living in a fallen world. There is no shame in this. Start by giving yourself a break, forgive and grow. Forgive the person or people that wronged you or were a part of the failure. Just like you, they are not perfect. This will help you in your healing and allow you to take the experience and become better for it. You will be tempted to think, I should have known better, I shouldn’t have done this, I shouldn’t…. You can’t change the past, and when you start to condemn yourself for not being perfect, just remember that there was only one person who was ever perfect (that job is already taken and none of us are qualified).
Finally, decide. If you look at the people who have gone through some very tough times in their lives and came out on the other side, besides the other two points, you will notice a common theme amongst their success. They made the decision that they were not going to let this be something that defined them and cause them further pain. You are not your past. Our past should be used to guide and instruct us on how we want to live our lives going forward. It should never be something that determines what we are today. We choose if our past is something that helps or hinders us, but we have to make this decision.
Life is not an easy road, it if full of struggle and challenges, but it also a gift and something that can be something very beautiful. We often think that we control so much more than we do, when really the only thing we do control is ourselves and how we respond. If you take the time to examine, forgive those a part of it, and decide that you use this as something that doesn’t define you but models you into something better you will not only help yourself, but make those that you care for and are a part of your life better for it.