Forgiveness has been on my mind this fall. It’s so much easier for me to forgive someone else for making a dumb mistake than it is to forgive myself.
There’s no possible way for me to control the decisions other people make. I can ask them to do (or not to do) something but ultimately it’s up to them whether or not they want to listen to me.
I can control what I do, though. In the past I’ve been pretty hard on myself over what ultimately turned out to be small bumps in the road. These things never should have stressed me out as much as they did. I don’t want to sound like I have this all figured out – there are still days when I expect much more from myself than I would anyone else. But I am learning to relax a little.
Here are a few questions that help you figure out if it really matters:
1) How would you react if a friend or family member did this? Usually my response would be a warm hug and something like, “it’s really going to be ok. Everyone makes mistakes.”
2) Will it matter in six months? And will you even remember it then? Most of the time there’s a world of no in both of these questions.
3) Is there anything you could (realistically) do to avoid similar events in the future? The answer to this one varies. Sometimes certain mistakes can be reduced or eliminated in the future by double-checking your work. At other times, though, short of developing superhuman abilities there’s nothing a reasonable person could have done to avoid whatever it was that happened.
Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Is there anything you’ve learned that helps one feel less guilty for small mistakes?