Time has lessons to teach those willing to learn, and when I think about my past, there are many things I would do differently. Since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you feel the same way. The recognition of our past shortcomings is a good thing. It means we aren’t the same person as we were then. We’ve learned, grown, and changed.
While pursuing personal growth, don’t fall into the trap of becoming mired in regret and shame over your past. Always remember that setting the bar higher is about progress, not punishment.
It’s far too easy to make the mistake of harshly judging our past self in light of our current awareness. Doing so, however, uses an unfair standard. Would you condemn a child for not knowing things adults know? Then why judge your younger self for things it lacked awareness about? Be grateful that you’ve grown in understanding, and be compassionate with yourself about that growth.
The conditions of a heart have to be right, for positive change to take place. You learned when you were ready. You changed when you were able.
Memories are a record of what you’ve been through in the seasons of your life, just like growth rings in a tree. You can no more change your past than a tree can change the history recorded within its trunk. Learn from your history, but do not live there.
Using past mistakes as a whip to punish yourself will make you miserable, but it can never make you a better person. No amount of self-flagellation will change what has already taken place.
Shame produces paralysis, not progress.
Direct your energy in ways that produce positive results. Whenever possible, make amends for wrongs done. Choose better things today than you did yesterday. Fearlessly speak truth to yourself. Always seek deeper understanding. These things are worthwhile pursuits because they make for a better you, and a better world.
Time spent wishing the past was different, is nothing more than slamming your head repeatedly against the solid wall of reality. You’ll cause yourself pain, but reality will be unchanged.
Energy wasted by endlessly circling in shame and regret robs you of forward motion in life.
The most important thing is to always keep learning and growing. Your choices today will shape the history of your tomorrows. Make peace with your past by allowing it to be your teacher, not your prison warden.