No one likes making mistakes. They’re what keep us up at night, forcing us to replay conversations, mapping out what we should or shouldn’t have said in the moment. They keep us stuck in the past, wracked with guilt and regret. They make us face the harsh reality that we are human after all.
Forgiving ourselves can be one of the hardest things we learn to do. The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that it is often not the mistake that is the problem, but the pain or sadness we feel afterwards. In other words, when we allow ourselves to sink into despair, our negative thoughts about ourselves are sometimes more harmful than the mistake we made. How then do we move on and get past the pain?
Here are 3 simple but profound pieces of wisdom that can help you learn to forgive yourself:
- Sometimes a mistake is the best thing that can happen to you. Our culture tends to associate error with stupidity and ignorance. It’s no wonder that we try to avoid mistakes at all costs. We don’t want to look bad, and we certainly don’t want to feel bad. However, failure is an important part of our spiritual process.
We’ve all heard it said that we learn more from our failures than our successes, and it’s true. Mistakes signal the areas where we should focus our energy in order to transform our lives for the better. Without them, we would walk around thinking we are perfect and never reaching our potential.
Imagine what your life would be like if you could get excited about failure and mistakes and never equate them to being stupid, ignorant, or bad. You wouldn’t be as hard on yourself, and you could focus on your spiritual growth from a place of self-love. Admitting fault is an amazing thing because that’s where growth stems from. Embrace your mistakes as incredible gifts. They are your golden opportunities to become a better you.
- You are not the last thing you did. Have you ever noticed when you’ve just gone out of your way to help someone in a positive way, it makes you feel like a superhero, walking on sunshine? And then when you make a big mistake, you suddenly feel like the scum of the earth? We tend to define ourselves by the last positive or negative thing we did as if our last action is the only thing that matters. But this is a very limited view of ourselves that can be damaging to our self-esteem.
Recognizing when we do something right or wrong is an important part of our learning process because it allows us to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. But when we spend too much time judging ourselves as “good” or “bad,” it prevents us from being truly self-aware. Either we blind ourselves to our faults and think we are perfect, or we dwell in shame and victimhood, and our opinion of ourselves can change on the turn of a dime.
Remember that your failures do not define you. You are much more complex than that! Just as we should not pass that kind of judgment on other people, we should not pass it on ourselves. Don’t let your mistakes trick you into believing you are a bad person.
We are designed to grow into better versions of ourselves through effort, practice, and patience. Even the most spiritually elevated people are not perfect. What makes them righteous is their desire to do good for others and to become better all the time.
- You were supposed to make that mistake. The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us that everything that happens to us needs to happen to us, even if it might seem painful. Sometimes we are able to look back at negative experiences we went through and see how they shaped us into stronger, better people. Other times it’s not so clear. Having certainty in the Creator means trusting on a spiritual level that you are being lead somewhere better, whether or not you can see it at the time.
Embrace the fact that the Creator brought this mistake into your life for a reason. Once something is in your life, you have to learn from it, or the lesson will come again and again until you do. Ask yourself: what are the lessons that I can and should learn so that I don’t need to go through this again?
We often look at mistakes as something we need to accept or just get over, unfortunate road bumps in our lives. But they are much more powerful than that. They are blessings in disguise and powerful opportunities for us to grow. They are little signs from the Creator about where we need to be focusing our energy. Embrace your mistakes as an important part of your spiritual journey, not road bumps, but signposts redirecting you to your highest potential.