Mistakes are part of being human. Everyone must have made mistakes. If you want to make peace with the past, change your existing mindset. Realize that you can learn from your mistakes and stop seeing them as really bad. If you need to come to terms with past mistakes, take the necessary steps. Lastly, accept yourself. Self-acceptance is the key so you can get up and move on with life.
Part 1 of 3: Changing Your Mindset
Step 1. Identify the emotions behind your regret
If you're having trouble forgetting past mistakes, there may be a cause you're not aware of. Take the time to identify the emotions behind the regret you feel. In order to forget the past, you must be able to let go of the emotions that bind you to the mistake.
- What do you associate with the error? Do you feel like you forgot something? Do you feel like you are treating someone you love badly? Can you identify one or more emotions that bind you to the past?
- For example, you may think that turning down a job opportunity was a mistake. You regret the action you have taken. Try to deal with the feeling of regret directly. Try to accept that everyone has regrets, and that this is a normal part of life. That way, you can forget the mistakes that have been haunting you for a long time.
Step 2. Isolate yourself from the error
Often times, we can't get out of a situation because we see mistakes or bad behavior as a reflection of our character. Everyone makes mistakes and exhibits bad behavior. However, these behaviors do not necessarily reflect your values and self-worth as an individual. Learn to see yourself as a separate individual from the mistakes you've made.
- Treat yourself as you would treat others. If a loved one, for example, made the same mistake, what would you say? There's a good chance you won't necessarily see a friend or family member as a bad person because of just one judgment.
- Give yourself the same kindness. Just because you've made mistakes doesn't mean you're a bad person overall. You and the mistakes you make are two different things. Of course, you can use these mistakes to identify what you need to change about yourself, but your character or badness doesn't necessarily represent who you are as a whole.
Step 3. Look for lessons to be learned
You can accept mistakes better if you view them as valuable. Instead of wishing you could do better, hold yourself back and think about what you could learn. You can't change the past, but you can use it to guide yourself in making better decisions in the future.
- Try to build gratitude for the ability to learn new things. For example, if you often get annoyed when your mom tries to talk to you when you get home, be grateful for the opportunity to learn that you need some time to cool off when you get home. This is something new that you learn about yourself, and it helps you develop better relationships with those closest to you.
- Guilt is the brain's way of sending a warning that you need to change. If you feel guilty, your behavior may be too extreme or unhealthy. If you're stuck with past mistakes, hold yourself back and think about what you can learn.
- For example, maybe you had a stressful day at work and took your anger out on your mother. You need to learn to manage your emotions so you don't take them out on other people. You can't change your attitude in the past, but you can try to manage your emotions better in the future.
Step 4. Accept your imperfections
You must be able to forget the desire to look perfect. If you can't get over past mistakes, there's a good chance you have perfectionist tendencies. Remember that no one is perfect and you shouldn't expect to live your life without making mistakes.
- Remind yourself that you can recognize mistakes that are made. A lot of people don't realize when they make a mistake so they keep doing it. However, self-awareness will help you live your life and recognize your mistakes.
- Not making mistakes is not realistic. You need to accept the fact that you have made mistakes and are not perfect. As long as you can recognize and realize the mistakes made, you are on the right path.
Step 5. Realize that you have behaved with limited awareness
As life goes on, everyone is always learning and growing. Your values and beliefs may change. What's obvious today may not look like it would in a few years because you didn't have the knowledge or beliefs that you currently have.
- For example, you may have used illegal drugs such as cocaine a few years ago because you thought it was fun. By now, you already know that illegal drugs are addictive substances that can encourage you to behave outside of yourself. However, when you first consumed it, you did not know it.
- You may have trusted someone who betrayed you and regretted it. However, at that time you did not know that he could actually betray you.
Part 2 of 3: Making Peace with Mistakes
Step 1. Realize that guilt is actually useful
The first step to coming to terms with guilt is embracing the guilt you feel. Instead of ignoring it, find out what you can learn. When you feel guilty, it's because you've done something wrong. You need to apologize for the mistake and change bad behavior in the future.
- Think about things that make you feel guilty. Have you hurt the feelings of someone you love? Are you yelling at a friend or family member? What can you do in the future? What needs to be done to pay for your mistakes at this point?
- However, don't be embarrassed. Shame comes when you judge or judge yourself based on just a few actions. This is not productive and actually makes you feel inferior, without making any significant changes. When admitting mistakes, remember that a bad action or decision you made doesn't necessarily make you a completely bad person.
Step 2. Accept the mistake you made
It's important that you admit your mistakes without making excuses, especially if you've hurt someone else. In order to be able to change and make peace, you need to recognize that bad behavior is a problem.
- Don't make excuses for yourself. Try not to think things like, "Yeah, I did yell at my friends, but I'm really depressed" or "Yeah, I was annoying yesterday, but I acted like that because of my childhood."
- If you make excuses, there's a chance that the same bad behavior will reappear in the future. Instead of making excuses, think of something like this: “I made a mistake. I can't change it, but I will try to become a better person in the future."
Step 3. Build empathy
If you want to pay for a mistake, try to imagine the hurt you inflicted on someone else. Think about what you said or did. Imagine how he felt when he accepted your treatment.
- It may not be easy to have empathy. This feels real, especially if you're trying to forget past mistakes. If you can forgive yourself, you probably won't think too much about the person you hurt. However, forgiving oneself is difficult.
- In order to commit to change, you must remain empathetic. Take time to reflect on actions that hurt others, and try to put yourself in their shoes. This way, in the end, you can be more careful and think about your actions wisely in the future.
Step 4. Find a way to improve the situation
The simplest thing you can do is apologize. You can also look for concrete steps to pay for mistakes. After reflecting and accepting the mistakes made by yourself, try to improve the relationship and situation with the person concerned.
- Sometimes, what needs to be done is clearly known. For example, if you damage someone else's property, you have to fix it. If you borrow money from someone and don't return it, of course you have to return the money.
- Sometimes, your results are not real. You may need to apologize to someone and show that you've changed. It may take time to mend a broken relationship, but your efforts will still pay off. This way, you can accept your mistakes and get back to life.
- In certain situations, the problem may be very personal. Even if you're not hurting anyone, you're actually bringing yourself down a lot. If you make a bad personal mistake, think about what you can do in the future to make a better decision. You can also look for steps that can be taken to improve the current situation. For example, let's say you spent a lot of money this month because you spend a lot of time with friends and spend a lot of money on non-essentials. In the future, you can strictly limit your spending until your next payday.
Part 3 of 3: Accepting Yourself
Step 1. Don't see yourself through a black and white perspective
If you're having a hard time forgetting past mistakes, it has to do with your point of view. Maybe you tend to see everything (including yourself) as two opposites. If you often see life in terms of “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” perspectives, encourage yourself to look at the “grey” area that lies between the two.
- Stop evaluating yourself. You don't have to label the behavior shown. It doesn't matter if you admit a desire to change or don't like the actions taken in certain situations. However, labeling certain behaviors as objectively wrong is counterproductive.
- Try to accept yourself. Some actions are ambiguous and confusing. You can make mistakes without having to categorize actions or yourself according to a narrow dichotomy.
Step 2. Show kindness to yourself
Do you show the same kindness to yourself that you show others? If not, this is the perfect time to do it. If you can't be nice to yourself, it will be difficult for you to forget the past and get back to life.
- Try to accept yourself as you are, including mistakes and all the things that have happened. If you have close friends or family members, chances are you're aware of their flaws too. Just because they have flaws, do you not care about them? Of course not. Try showing the same kindness to yourself.
- Stop thinking about problems as soon as they happen. If you start thinking, “I'm mad at myself for making a mistake. I am a person who always fails,” replace that assumption with a more positive thought. For example, you could say to yourself, “I've made mistakes, and it's okay if I have flaws. I'm already happy with my life."
Step 3. Embrace your strengths
Aside from mistakes, it's important that you acknowledge your strengths. If you are constantly dwelling on past mistakes, hold yourself back and remember all your strengths (or successes).
- Take note of your strengths when you start to think negatively about yourself. Take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the things you like about yourself.
- You can start this list with simple things like, "I'm friendly to other people." Develop the list from these, and note your more specific strengths.