About two weeks ago I made a big mistake.
I was driving to the ranch to meet the farrier. As always, when I arrived at the gate at the end of the driveway, I stopped the truck in order to get out, open the gate and drive through. As I got out of the truck and closed the door and began to walk up to the gate, the truck started moving. Straight towards me.
I jumped out of the way and watched in what seemed to be slow motion as the truck went through the gate, took a left turn and ploughed its way over the fence and into the pasture. I thought it would stop, but it kept going and I ended up running in the pasture after my truck so I could open the door, pull myself in and put the truck in park.
I know why it happened. I have had a lot going on, I was incredibly busy, I was trying to do everything, and apparently, trying to do it all at once. I wasn’t grounded or present in the moment and in my moving on auto pilot, I forgot the important step of putting the truck in park.
When we make mistakes it is so incredibly easy to judge ourselves. The “shoulds” the “what ifs” and the negative self-talk can end up defining us. We can replay the mistake over and over in our minds, we can wish we made a different choice, and we can beat ourselves up and hold on to guilt or shame.
When we do that, we keep ourselves stuck. We make it so we are unable to move forward. We resist learning from that mistake so that we can move into a new way of being with greater awareness about what does and does not work for us.
I try to keep the following saying in mind at times when I make a mistake: Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.
Buddha said it another way: Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.
So, how do we let go of the mistake so we can move on? Perhaps starting with just a few simple steps:
1: Acknowledge that it was a mistake, something that you would not have chosen to do if you had the knowledge you have now;
2: Recognize that it is the imperfect choices that we make that help to lead us in a more clear direction of what choices we would like to make in the future;
3: Be gentle with yourself. Ask yourself how you would react, or what would you say to a dear friend who had made that choice. Treat yourself with the kindness and forgiveness that you would offer to that friend.
As a mentor of mine, Mark Silver, has said: Perfection belongs to the Divine. The rest of us carry erasers, compassion and a dust pan.