Something I struggle with is learning to let go. I mean, if someone cuts me off in traffic, I get pissed and stay pissed well after they passed me (or I catch up to them, give them the “Worthams’ Death Glare” and pass on by). Someone post something contrary to my opinion on FB or Twitter – I remember that for days, often wishing I would come up with something to post back. I have an argument with someone and will constantly revisit that conversation for weeks on end, imagining the different ways I could have won that debate.
Same thing happens when I fall short in something or I make a mistake. I blow a call in a baseball game and I dwell on it forever, kicking myself for what I thought I saw or for being out of the proper position to make the right call. I run a race and come in way slower than I wanted to – I’ll keep telling myself that I’m the worst athlete ever and I should give up. I pull out a high school yearbook and dwell on something stupid I did in my youth. I miss a shot in NBA2K16 and I may pout for the rest of the night.
I find it close to impossible to forgive myself and it often leads to more negative thoughts about myself. I tell myself I’m worthless. I tell myself that no one will accept me because I’ve screwed up or I’ve fallen short. And what’s really bad is that I’ll let these thoughts have an overpowering impact on my personal life and sometimes my professional life as well.
For example, earlier today I attended a fundraiser in Lansing. Shortly before that event, I could not find a word doc that I needed. I looked everywhere on my computer, on our servers, on multiple flash drives.
It was all to no avail. Instead of accepting it and starting to draft a new doc, I kicked myself for coming up short – again. That then got amplified by my fear that the people involved with the event I had to attend would think poorly of me because I’m currently wearing a walking cast/boot on. Then that got amplified by my fear that I would run into people who have a general dislike of banks, or of some political comment I’ve made, or have an impression of me based on something related to the Jaycees or the road commission or something. And that got amplified by my mind imagining what a conversation would be like with such a person.
Needless to say, all that imagining of the worst had me shook.
The time came where I had to walk into the event and immediately I felt judging eyes falling on me. Now, I don’t know if there were actually judging eyes – but that what I told myself. As I signed in, I purposely did not make eye contact with some people I knew because I feared what they would think/say/do. Needless to say, not a lot of people talked with me.
Quickly shaking hands with couple of people, including the person who the event was for – I left. If I wasn’t wearing a boot, I’m pretty sure that I would have sprinted out of there. I will admit, I was actually tempted to take the stairs instead of taking the elevator down (I was on the 12th floor) just so that I could get out of there faster.
In hindsight – it’s very possible and probably most likely that no one there thought anything about me. They might have been busy checking people into the event or with some other job related things. And even if they did think about me, they probably didn’t put that much effort or time into it. But because I was so amped up and unwilling/unable to let go of mistakes that had nothing to do with what I was doing, I wasn’t able to see past my perception and enjoy things for what they were.
This is all a long story to share with you how important it is to let go of things – how important it is not to let mistakes and regrets dominate your mind. Well, actually it’s a long story to remind me of that.
So thanks for tagging along with me for that story. 😉
I do think there is a few important lessons from this and from life in general that I need to remember (courtesy of my therapist and from Angel Chernoff – http://www.marcandangel.com):
1 – You are not your mistakes. – Life didn’t come with instructions. Accept that mistakes will happen. You are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your tomorrow. No matter how chaotic the past has been, the future is a clean, fresh, wide open slate. What you do with it is up to you.
2 – Mistakes are rarely as bad as they seem. – Mistakes and setbacks are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger. You should never let one dark cloud cover the entire sky. The sun is always shining on some part of your life. Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward.
3 – Life goes on. – Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later this collection of mistakes, called experience, leads us to success. If it’s good, it’s going to be wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s going to be an experience. Your mindset is at the heart of your success. You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you have and be thankful for what you had. Forgive yourself and others, but don’t forget. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t regret. Life is change, things go wrong, and life goes on.
So friends, here’s to not letting things of the past, whether recent or distant, take away our energy to make today and tomorrow and the days after that full of positive thoughts and deeds.