We all make mistakes that we regret, but they are the impetus for personal growth.
The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.– John Dewey
I think most people would agree, it is impossible to get through life without making mistakes; mistakes in judgment, mistakes in planning, mistakes in delivery. We may start out with the best intentions, only to realize the mess we have created or the disappointment we have suffered. Nevertheless, it is those mistakes from which we learn and experience personal growth.
How many people can remember being in their youth thinking that when they reached the age of 21, they would know everything they needed to know for the journey of life? They would be an adult and have it all figured out. For most people, it doesn’t take many years of adulthood to figure out that they were wrong and still have so much to learn.
Life has a way of gifting us with surprises and sometimes throwing us curve balls. We frequently need to regroup and take stock in our choices and values, often making very difficult decisions along the way. We are constantly evolving. I often think to myself, If only I knew then, what I know now.
Experiences are the teachers and we are the students. Being open to the evolution of our thoughts helps us to learn from our past, and learn from other’s experiences as well. Think how often people say, if only I had known. We all learn as we get older and have new experiences. To regret what we didn’t know when we were younger is fruitless. Yet, to learn from our mistakes is not only productive, but it is a productive way to foster personal growth.
There is no point we reach at which we are done learning and changing. Rather than living a life focused on regret, we have the opportunity to choose a life of awareness whereby we are willing to look at our mistakes and continuously shape and improve ourselves. We have the opportunity to enjoy the journey of our own evolution!
Consider: What were some of the turning points in your life where you made a poor choice or behaved in a way that caused you or others pain? What were some difficult circumstances in your life that you had to overcome? Give some thought to these chapters of your life and consider what specifics you learned from those experiences. How are you different today because of those struggles? Building on these insights, consider what strengths you possess that helped you through those struggles. Be proud of how you’ve grown!
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC https://www.greenwoodcounselingcenter.com