Bound by Poor Decisions

Photo by Fernando @cferdophotography on Unsplash

Poor Decisions. Failure. Errors.  Hurtful mistakes made while emotional.  All of these fall under the category of regrets that haunt us in the middle of the night. You know what I am talking about.  Why is it when we often find ourselves awake in the wee hours unable to sleep, memories that bring the burden of guilt and condemnation seem to arise?

Sometimes these memories even bubble up during my waking hours. I was so relieved when I read one of Jan Arden's books and she talked about this happening to her too.  She would be out walking, or having a cuppa, and wham, unwanted, difficult memories would erupt from where they had been hidden away. I do my best to let the past I cannot change go and focus on the present, but it seems impossible to totally obliterate the past go or the feelings memories of our mistakes can bring. 


This idea was also touched on by Simu Liu in his memoir We Were Dreamers. He addressed the fear of being wrong, of making mistakes, and how it can hold us back from continuing to reach for the life we so desire.

"So often we drift through life bound by the poor decisions we've made in the past, too afraid of the uncertainty that comes with challenging our status quo." - Simu Liu, We Were Dreamers

One of the certainties of life is making mistakes is unavoidable. They are an ingrained part our everyday learning process. While we might wish we were perfect and always made the right choices, learning really involves a whole lot of trial and error. It's time to embrace the process in a more positive way.  If what we tried didn't work, then we have learned something. We simply need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, adjusting our direction, hitting more dead ends, and changing direction, while always moving forward.  

Personal growth comes as we face challenges. Working through our mistakes and failures can build our resilience, strength and determination.  It can change our perspective and help us become more compassionate when dealing with others who are struggling. It can help us grow if we let it. Our children benefit from seeing us deal with our imperfections in a positive way, as do our family and friends.


The hardest for me to bear is when I mess up in my treatment of someone.  I might have had little sleep, or a bad day, or taken a hit personally in my work or private life. I might have totally misunderstood someone's actions or been misled by another. However it comes about, it never feels good to know you are in the wrong and that your actions hurt someone you care for. 

In these times, all you can do is embrace your humanness with humility. Let go of the guilt and blame. Instead put your energy into righting the wrong - a heartfelt apology, an action of attrition, and a promise to do better in the future. Then do better.  

success-failure-courage poster
My sorrow as a
mother is looking back at the times I just didn't get it right with my kids. The guilt bubbles up a few times a year and I have many sleepless nights spent in regret.  Drifting in an ocean of guilt and self-condemnation for past mistakes only holds me back from enjoying the present. All I can do is try to keep moving forward and be the best I can be in this moment. It is my choice. 

And know, you don't have to become someone you're not. You simply need to let go of your negative habits and allow your positive assets to shine. Stop allowing the regretful decisions of your past to define the life you live now, and the beautiful one calling you. Let go of the fear of making mistakes - they will happen anyway. Embrace them and use them as a tool to help you move forward. 

The status quo might feel like a safe and comfortable place to be, but it's really a stagnant pond that lacks the elements necessary to bring you joy.  Try today to simply love yourself as you are, fully embrace your humanity, and learn from your mistakes. The expand out to embrace those around you fully, including their imperfections.