There are times I think back on things I have done and said in my life, and cringe. There are even times, just as something is coming out of my mouth, I am saying to myself, Nooo, don’t say it, stop this now! But it’s often too late. It’s out there and it can’t be sucked back in, rewound, or erased. Then, I have to deal with the consequences of my poor choices, thoughtless actions or spontaneous words. Whilst these things can’t be undone; they can be incredibly useful.
I joke now, even though it was no joke at the time, about how I spent much of my younger years, returning to places and people to apologise for dumb stuff that I said and did. I was such an insecure person, without really understanding why or doing any internal research to gain awareness of my behaviours. I was often doing things to get attention, be liked or gain some confidence. I would do and say things to make myself look better than other people, even if it offended them. Once done, it couldn’t be undone. I would regularly drink excessive amounts of alcohol for the false façade that came with the effects of alcohol. Again, I would say and do things that seemed funny to me at the time yet were incredibly inappropriate. Again, once done, they could not be undone.
For so long I would go along in my life just thinking to myself, I don’t really like me very much, and I don’t like how I often feel about myself or the things I regularly say and do. But that’s just me, what can I do about it? With that attitude and belief, I just accepted myself as I was, and so I stayed in that place – doing the same things, feeling the same regret, and feeling stuck – for far too long. At that time in my life, I was just doing the best I could. I was doing what I knew and I didn’t know that I could change.
I believe there comes a time in all of our lives when we feel so disgusted, so stuck and so frustrated that we make a decision to do something different. That moment has come to me several times in my life, but most recently soon after my third marriage ended in the second half of 2019. It was a moment when I thought about my life, where I was at, and all the things I had said and done that could not be undone. I decided that I would no longer accept this version of myself and that things must change. Whilst I could not undo the things from my past, I could use them to help me become a better man and a better person.
I started to reflect on myself, my beliefs and my behaviours in an attempt to understand myself. Wow, was that ever an interesting and enlightening process? As I understood more about the impact of my upbringing, my parents, my influences, my hard-wiring, and my experiences it helped to explain why I was the way I was. Immediately, I felt lighter, and I could see a way out. I decided to accept myself for the person I was, my flaws, faults, and all. I decided to pray for forgiveness for all the things I had said and done that could not be undone. I felt a wave of peace and self-love wash over me, and I was a changed man.
Whilst there were so many things I had done and said that I regretted and wished had never happened, I was able to use them and learn about myself, then start the process of positive change. This is a powerful realisation that I want to share with you this week in the hope that it may inspire you to go on your own journey. It was Maya Angelou who said, I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better. Whilst things you have done, when you knew what you knew back then, cannot be undone, you can learn from them and do better in the future.
I hope this is resonating with you and giving you some peace about your past. You are a wonderful person, and you are doing the best you can. Are you perfect? Nope. Will you make mistakes that can’t be undone? Yep. Can you learn something every day? If you choose to. When we really understand ourselves, it’s amazing what can change in our lives. In my podcast this week with Matheo Galatis called Your transformational why, we discuss some ideas that will really help with this understanding.
As you move forward from today, remember, you can’t change your past, but you can learn from it. Even as you evolve and move forward from today, you will make mistakes and poor choices, which just means you are a human, and a glorious one at that. When you do or say something that you regret and can’t undo, just resolve to learn from it and get a little better each day.