UNDOING PAST MISTAKES
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© June 2011, The Center For Development
Clients sometimes ask me how they can overcome mistakes they have made in the past. These can include poor decisions, hurting others, cheating, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, and other things from the past that now cause them shame, guilt, anxiety and self-doubt. This article discusses some suggestions that may help.
WANTING TO CORRECT YOUR MISTAKES IS EXCELLENT. HOLDING ON TO SHAME AND GUILT ARE NOT HELPFUL
A principle is that wanting to undo your ‘karma’ from the past is very good. However, worrying about it morbidly is not good. Holding on to the idea that you are condemned by God, a shameful person, and horribly guilty are not helpful. Read the section below on the law of grace if you find yourself plagued by this problem.
THE LAW OF GRACE AND THE LAW OF KARMA OR CAUSE AND EFFECT
According to the Hebrew and the Christian bibles, God forgives mankind for many sins or misdeeds. Do not hold on to the idea that you will never be forgiven for something you have done. This is actually a form of egotism, as though your issue is so bad that God could not possibly forgive you and lift it off your shoulders.
Never think this way, I would suggest. Just proceed as best you can, realizing that grace and forgiveness are real and possible for you, no matter what you have done. In prayers and meditation, you can begin each day asking for guidance, grace, mercy and forgiveness. This is fine and usually all that is needed to help invoke the law of grace.
TELLING A FRIEND ABOUT YOUR MISDEEDS CAN HELP FREE YOU, AND CAN HELP BEGIN THE PROCESS OF HEALING THESE WOUNDS
A young woman named Anne Jackson has written a book entitled Permission To Speak Freely: Essays and Articles on Fear, Confession And Grace. In this very good and simple book, the author tells her own sad story and relates how important it can be to tell at least one friend or other person about what you have done. This, she says, can often begin a healing process. Holding on to secrets, on the other hand, is often not helpful.
You must be ready to tell another, and be prepared for the other person to not want to hear about it. However, if you can summon the courage to share what has occurred, this often is helpful.
IF NEEDED, SETTLE OLD DEBTS AND OTHER WRONGS AS BEST YOU CAN, WITHOUT ENDANGERING YOURSELF IN ANY WAY
Another helpful idea is to settle old debts and other things as best you can, in as safe a manner as possible. You can even return money or things in an anonymous way if you don’t feel it is safe to contact a particular person. This can help you to be forgiven and to forgive yourself, another necessary step to heal old wounds and errors.
READING INSPIRING BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE WHO OVERCAME SERIOUS PROBLEMS, ILLNESSES, DEPRAVITY AND OTHER PROBLEMS CAN ALSO HELP
I found that reading biographies and stories about people who overcame their handicaps and problems is another way to move past your own self-pity, guilt and fear.
You may want to look for books about overcoming guilt and shame. There are many available. I particularly enjoyed reading the story of Booker T. Washington, George Carver, Nicola Tesla, Bucky Fuller and many others who started life with many problems and managed to overcome them and to live wonderful lives of service and achievement.
A LIFE OF SERVICE IS WONDERFUL AND PROBABLY THE BEST ANSWER TO UNDO PAST MISTAKES
The idea of the life of service is quite simple. It can help “make up” or compensate for any shortcomings earlier in your life by working hard to help others and to clear your mind and heal your body that you may become a better servant of God or of the universe.
This is one of the safest and best ways to undo any misdeeds and wrongs you may have committed in the past. It has motivated me, and continues to do so. It is a totally positive focus that also just happens to bring about a life of joy and fulfillment like no other.
Being of service is really more about your attitude than anything else. It has very little to do with what kind of service you will do or offer. You may decide to work hard, be a good parent or mate, donate time to a worthwhile charity, help the poor, or any number of activities. You may decide to help out at your church or synagogue, pray for others and teach them how to live, or something else.
What really matters in the life of service is your attitude that you are not living just for yourself, but to assist others in their spiritual journey in some way. It involves giving up the self-centered and selfish life that most people lead to one degree or another.
You are not to harm yourself doing this, as that is stupid and not really helpful to anyone. However, you need not overspend or indulge yourself, and you need not waste as much time as most people do on frivolous and self-centered activities such as shopping, vacations, watching television or movies, playing on the computer, visiting with friends and so on.
To help you stay focused on your service, you may want to begin and end each day with a prayer and a request that you achieve a high level of health and wellness, and that God and the angels take you, use you and show you in each moment how to do Thy Will on planet earth. This is what I think is meant by a life of service.
These simple steps can help most anyone out of guilt, fear, shame, and depression over past mistakes. They can turn a life of shame and despair into one of inspiration, hope and joy.