CLEANING UP PAST MISTAKES
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© June 2019, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is solely the opinion of the author and for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease health condition.
Everyone makes mistakes. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth.
Learning from one’s mistakes is very good. Holding on to guilt, fear and other negative emotions due to having made mistakes is not helpful at all for healing and development.
This article discusses how to make up for your mistakes and get rid of the negative feelings that go with making mistakes.
II. HOW TO CORRECT MISTAKES
Correcting mistakes first requires that you stay aware of your mistakes and that you take full responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions.
Taking responsibility is a power position. it is saying to yourself “I helped create this mess, so I can uncreate it.” This is much better than making excuses for your thoughts, words or deeds, denying that there were any mistakes, or blaming others for mistakes when, in fact, you were involved.
Next, correcting mistakes involves a series of steps. The first ones are mental steps. Then one must take action.
The Mental Steps:
1. SADNESS OR CONTRITION
This is feeling badly that you did something wrong. Originally, contrition referred to religious sins, but contrition actually refers to any type of mistake or error.
This step is the feeling and understanding that one wishes that things would have been different.
This is a combination of the two feelings above. It might be expressed as “Oh, what a mess I have made.”
The Action Steps
A wonderful habit is to always apologize quickly and sincerely if you make a mistake that caused a problem for someone. If you say it with feeling and sincerity, an apology is very powerful.
A sincere apology signifies that you are sad or contrite about what occurred, that you wish it had not occurred, and that you want to remedy the situation.
Some people have difficulty apologizing. In you are one of these people, practice apologizing. Make an effort to apologize to everyone for every little indiscretion and mistake. It may seem silly, but learning to apologize without hesitation is vital to move on to the next steps to clearing mistakes from your body and mind.
To repent means to decide that you will not make this mistake again and you want to make things right or correct your mistake.
3. MAKE RESTITUTION
This means to pay money, offer your time or service, or do something else to help undo the damage you have caused.
This is an important legal idea. For example: Let us say your car ran over your neighbor’s dog that ran out into the street behind the car. To make restitution, one might buy the neighbor a new dog of the same type, age, and size as the one that was killed. One also might pay for the funeral and burial of the neighbor’s former dog.
These are examples of restitution.
The word atone (at-one) means to make whole or to make one again. At a mental level, when one makes a mistake or sins, in religious terms, one separates oneself from God. To atone means to rejoin or reunite once again with God and this ends any sense of separation from God.
III. OTHER TOPICS
WHAT IS GUILT?
Guilt means culpable and somehow condemned for your mistake. It is a powerful feeling that can cripple a person. Holding on to guilt can easily stop development because it interferes and can negate self-love, an important quality needed for development.
WHAT IS SIN?
The word sin means to miss the mark, and that is all. It does not mean you are a bad person, which is a harsh self-judgment.
THE SUBTELTY OF ERROR
We often have incomplete knowledge of circumstances when we make decisions. As a result, at times, what appears as a mistake or error turns out well in the end. There was no mistake. It just appeared that way.
At other times, what seemed at the time to be a correct path or activity later turns out to be incorrect. This is the subtlety of action.
For example, you may have damaged your health by eating incorrectly for years. However, in seeking to improve your health, you came across this website and you getting much more than just your health back. So what seemed like a mistake perhaps was not such a bad thing.
To succeed with these steps above, one must have an attitude of total forgiveness toward oneself. Just as it is very important to cultivate taking full responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions, also cultivate and learn to forgive yourself and others.
This does not mean to forget or to condone bad behavior. It means we don’t understand why events and situations occur and therefore we will not permanently judge ourselves or others whose actions are not helpful or loving.