I spend a lot of time thinking about choosing my own life and choosing to be the best version of myself. I really do believe that every moment is a choice and that you can choose to act in a new way. This doesn’t mean that things never fall apart, and I never slip up. To be honest I slip up most of the time, often reverting back to habits I’ve had since I was five. And sometimes my will to choose to be the best version of myself makes the whole thing even worse—it leads to a lot of beating myself up for failing (again).
For me this whole situation points to one very important thing—perhaps just as important as believing you can choose the way you are in the world is learning to forgive yourself. It is a given that you will screw up, and continue to screw up, and some days you will stomp your feet and have the strong impulse to toss yourself on the floor, screaming bloody murder and pounding with your fists on the linoleum. Sometimes you will be mean, or have mean thoughts, or shout, or hide, or do whatever you do when you feel threatened. It’s OK. We all do this. And while constantly reminding yourself of your failings and replaying your failures in your brain might sound like the most effective way to correct your behavior, it’s not. It just pulls you back into the dark vortex.
Forgiveness on the other hand, now that has potential. Learning to be kind to yourself even when you’re acting like a moron can really change the moment and change your life. It’s like a little thread of moonlight cutting through the dark—it says, “there’s hope for me yet!” If you can muster the stamina and insight to forgive yourself, you can surely learn to act differently next time.
Of course there is no way to stop the phenomenal recording machine that is your brain from replaying the “I suck and look how much I suck” song, but you can also choose to breathe and remember it’s just a silly song and you don’t have to listen to it. You can choose to look out and say “I forgive myself” and let the next moment be completely new.