It is easy to be negative about past mistakes, but our past helped us to advance to higher levels of living and loving. They were the building blocks that helped us shape a life. For better or for worse, they served a purpose. Each step of the way, we learned. We went through exactly the experiences we needed to become who we are today. Some of us have emerged from these mistakes with deep insights about who we are and what we want.
Mistakes are often the result of choices and decisions made from a place of naiveté, carelessness or arrogance. Whether you reaped the consequences in the moment or years later, the impact is the same. Only time and distance can give you perspective as to your true motivations. You can't erase the past, but learn from it you can.
Denis Waitley sums it up perfectly:
"Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience."
Why mistakes are hard to deal with and why they are troublesome is that for many of us our mistakes were witnessed publicly and created shame, some were made in private and created guilt, and others ended up hurting only us. But through trial and error, pain and sorrow, we learned and reaped the experiences necessary, experiences to teach us the lessons that would ultimately shape our character and destiny.
However, what people choose to do after the fact determines everything. There are two different outcomes, two different paths people face in regards to their mistakes. There are those who use it as a catalyst to grow and change their way of being and doing, the consequences serving as a reminder to do things differently in the future and to be mindful of every thought, word and deed.
And then, there are those who feel so ashamed, and after a period of self-loathing and guilt, they resort back to their toxic way of thinking and doing. Instead of the mistake becoming a lesson, it becomes a way of life for them. They do not care enough that their mistakes have left a trail of hurt and destruction in the lives of others. They lack empathy for the ones who reaped the consequences of their mistakes and are perceived as mere casualty on their journey. Sad but true.
Here's the truth of the matter: What builds character is not by avoiding mistakes -- it's how you choose to think and act afterwards. That is the test, the lesson. It is your defining moment, your grand opportunity to step up to the plate and become the best version of a human being in action or not. The choice is yours.