When we make a mistake we are often compelled to say that we will never do it again. This places rigid restrictions on us. If we make the same or a similar mistake again we can feel like a failure. We can then come to believe that our whole person is a failure and we give up. We quite following the path that could and quite possibly will lead to our success.
So what is the solution to this? There is a way that we can shift our thinking to better align with the true uncertainty and impermanence of life. This shift is done when we say to either ourselves or the one we have harmed that we will do our best to not allow this situation to repeat.
Now the key to this is we have to then take the steps necessary to make this true. We cannot just sit back and think that we will be capable through willpower alone. This is definitely a requirement but not our only means. We must take responsibility for our growth and development. We must seek, actively seek, a way to learn about ourselves and the reasons for this painful, often destructive behavior.
As we learn to seek inside ourselves for the answers we may not always like what we find. There may be truths about us that we have tried to hide away for a long time. This can often be painful to finally accept. It is paramount that we find this and then learn from it.
What we find will inevitably be that thing that is holding us back from becoming more in line with who we would like to be.
I, a few weeks ago had my personal struggle come to a violent point. I had felt very out of balance with myself. I was lost in a dark place in my mind. I was not sure why I was there or how to find my way out. My wife and I had grown distant over what was about a six month time period. Then it all came erupting to the surface one Sunday night.
I was just getting out of the shower and she had come upstairs to check the laundry in the dryer. Our upstairs air conditioning is broken at the moment. The dryer vent hose was also needing repair. So the combination of these two events has made the upstairs, where our children where currently sleeping, very hot. In her frustration with me, she came into our bathroom and said something to me. I can not remember what exactly she said because she started with one sentence that triggered extreme anger for me.
“You are so lazy!” This sentence is what caused me to feel the need to defend myself. It triggered in me a flashback to my childhood of hearing that word often. It sent me after her in a violent fit. We started to yell. I said I wanted a divorce because nobody would ever call me that word and not be punished in some way. As she told me later she was frightened of me for the first time ever in our relationship. This includes five years of me being a controller.
As I had time over the next couple days to reflect I spent a great deal of this time soul searching. I read (or listened to) any book I could that I thought may offer me some insight into why I had become so angry at the mere mention of the word “lazy.” It was on Wednesday night we finally sat down to really talk about the events of the past Sunday. I was finally able to communicate to her what was going on for me. I was struggling with some problems with my mother that I had not dealt with yet. When she called me lazy it brought all of the things I had not wanted to face right to the forefront of my conscious mind.
I, for the first time in our marriage, that I can remember, had broken into tears with her. I tried my best to explain to her what I was feeling and what I needed to do to fix myself. I asked for her forgiveness and made a sincere promise I would do my best to not allow myself to bottle up and eat my emotions.
To be sure I am doing all I can to keep this promise to her I have continued to read and find time to search myself for what is going on within me. It has only been about a month or so since this happened but I can already feel a great difference within me. She has also commented out the change she has seen. It is not huge but it is a step in the right direction.
I do not think any of this would have been possible if I had placed a rigid restriction on myself that I would never react that way again. I would have fought, even with myself, that hard lined restriction. This would have caused me to not put in the work required to find and them be able to admit what I needed to work on to improve.
I think there is very little we can do that is unforgivable. The key is we must be willing to find out what is the cause of the behavior, admit it, and then work to correct or change the behavior for ourselves. I think this sums it up very nicely.
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” Bruce Lee