Ever find yourself on the bad end of a decision?
Of course you have. Everybody has. Everyone has made a mistake at one point or another. Unfortunately, sometimes, some of our mistakes are costly. Some of our mistakes can be painful. Some of our mistakes will hurt other people and sometimes, our mistakes damage friendships or result in the separation of important relationships.
The truth of the matter is (and I have to say this all the time, out loud as well as in print,) “We make mistakes but mistakes don’t make us!”
I had to learn that while the past is unchangeable, I still have the right to improve. I still have the right to better my path no matter which direction it may turn.
I had to learn that while their might be others that do not or cannot forgive or pardon me, in order to improve; I cannot and will not allow this or my mistakes to define me.
In this case, I have to adapt, adjust, and as heavyhearted as this may be, I have to continue living my life.
Moreover, I can apologize whenever possible. I can say I am sorry. I can pay restitution and make my amends; however, I have to remember that a heartfelt apology is a heartfelt apology. Whether this is accepted or not is beyond my control.
Also, a heartfelt apology does not always absolve my mistakes. Actions alter relationships and apologizing again and again does not, will not, and cannot change what happened.
In fact, oftentimes, apologizing more than once is seldom apologetic and more so, the apology becomes a manipulative tool to make us feel better.
Even though an apology is supposed to be selfless, if we keep apologizing then we are mainly apologizing to rid us of guilt. We do this to soften the shame because deep down, we knew what we were doing.
I will go back to the best quote I have from Mark Twain.
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”
I believe this quote is universally true. And there are times when we are plagued by the wreckage of our choices. There are times when we are plagued by the memories of our mistakes, which, more accurately, we are plagued by the memory of our inventory.
We remember the shame and the guilt. We remember the humiliation. In some cases, we remember being caught with our hand in the cookie jar (so to speak.) We remember the exposure of our wrongs because this exposes an impurity of our hearts.
There is something truthful to the idea that we are all self-destructive at times. It is also true that greed is part of our nature. We want what we want, right away, all the time.
I do not discount this idea. In fact, I do not blame this idea either. As a matter of fact, I am grateful for this idea because first, this allows me to be human and second, this allows me a simple understanding about us as people and our behavior. This also alleviates the internal tension so that at any point, we can learn more on how to understand ourselves and improve.
I remember someone I knew. He used to be one of those stock brokers we read about in the newspaper. He went to prison for securities fraud.
He had a few conversations with me before leaving and a one long conversation when I went upstate to visit him.
I remember him saying that he was sorry about what he did. He was humiliated. And I remember the question I asked, which might sound a bit rough, but I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t to the point on this one.
I explained about what The Old Man said to me when I was arrested. I told him The Old Man I was sorry about what I did.
The Old Man asked me a question that made me thing for a minute.
The Old Man asked, “Are you sorry you did it? Or, are you sorry you got caught.”
Then he told me, “Because there’s a difference.”
He said, “If you’re sorry you did it then there’s a way that you can be better and never do this again.”
He told me, “If you’re just sorry you got caught then you’re not sorry at all. You’re just upset because you got exposed and you didn’t get away with it!”
As tough as this was to hear, there was something about this honesty that both made sense and exposed me for who I was, which was uncomfortable.
Allow me to put something to rest. The brain makes 35,000 decisions a day. And not all of them are going to be the best.
However, the best part about this is fortunately, we have the ability to learn. We have the ability to improve, no matter what, and regardless to the consequences —we always have the right to better ourselves and improve our path.
I say this because looking back at my business over the last few years, I can see some of my mistakes. I see how they hurt me. I can see how they would make me look to others around me, which is vanity, which is also my ego, which is more importantly a distraction and can lead to me not achieving my goals.
I had to learn how to pardon me —even if nobody else will.
Even if nobody else will give me another change —I can always improve from the inside out.
The struggle we have with this is our distraction from the thought machine. This is the fear. This is the shame. This is the exposure of our events and the embarrassment of our imperfections. Moreover, this is all an illusion and a list of excuses.
We have to stop that.
I had to learn that beneficial or unprofitable, I cannot allow my past to define me nor can I let the fear of my past to reshape my future.
All I can do is be humble, remember my pain, remember my effort, and honestly remember my intentions. This way I can learn and improve.
I have to watch my ego. I have to maintain my self-care to preserve my best interest, and by all means, I have to move forward because looking back and harping on my mistakes will do nothing else but create more of the same.
We can choose to improve at any given moment.
After that, the rest is up to us.