I hurt a loved one recently. Through unmindful actions and not considering my loved one’s feelings, I nearly destroyed a beautiful and cherished relationship. I, in typical fashion when I make a mistake, felt like an utter failure when I learned of how my actions hurt this person. I, of course, began beating myself up for not being “perfect” and just wallowed in that for some time. Then, it occurred to me that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” In other words, the situation has occurred and there’s nothing I can do to change what’s been done…but I DO have the power to positively effect what ultimately arises out of the ashes.
I began to remind myself of how very important it is that we learn to turn even the worst scenario on its ear and utilize that experience to help not only ourselves but all those around us. I also began to remind myself of the difference between true remorse for one’s mistakes and its ugly cousin, guilt, which often times masquerades as remorse. Remorse allows us to reflect upon our mistakes; looking deeply into them and learning from them so that we ultimately move forward on our Path. Guilt, on the other hand, is immobilizing and causes us to get stuck, making the entire situation about our own self and often disregarding how others feel. These two key points, utilizing our mistakes for good and developing true remorse for our mistakes, helped me in so many ways to repair the damage I caused to my loved one.
One other major reminder I gave myself is that the Practice of Peace truly does begin at home. When we make mistakes with others, of course we want the other person to forgive us for what we’ve done. Thankfully, my loved one was able to show me true compassion, grace and dignity by forgiving me. We can do lots of work, make lots of promises, engage in long and meaningful conversations and go out of our way to try and prove to that person that we’re once again worthy of their love, trust and friendship. However, we ultimately cannot control whether that person will or will not forgive us. No matter how hard we try or how much work we put into it, it’s completely the other person’s choice and we have to accept that. So, maybe we’re forgiven…maybe we’re not. But we should, at the very least, be willing to forgive our own selves for the mistakes we make…and we WILL make them. We have to allow our Practice of peace to begin right there in our own Heart and our own Mind. A Heart filled with guilt, self-loathing and despair is not capable of arriving at viable, effective and self-sustaining solutions to the problems we encounter in life. We HAVE to learn to love ourselves, unconditionally, even through the mistakes we make, no matter how grave those mistakes may seem at the time. Usually, the mistakes we make are not nearly as detrimental as we make them out to be anyway.
So, I’ve learned to:
1) Utilize my mistakes on the Path (turn it on its ear)
2) Let go of mere guilt
3) Cultivate true remorse so that lessons can arise
4) Forgive myself
I wanted to share these lessons with you because this is how I’m turning my mistake on its ear and utilizing it to help those around me. I sincerely hope this does, indeed, help someone out there who may be feeling bad about a mistake they’ve made. Try and work through it– not over it, under it or around it. Face it and yourself and, through it all, remind yourself that you are indeed worthy of love and true Peace. It’s through this very process that we are able to transform so-called failures into great successes.