The other day, I was walking my dogs Bandit and Lucy. Both dogs joined our family about seven years ago as rescues. While Bandit loves human attention, Lucy is a little more “reserved”. In fact, she is very skittish around people who are not me, my husband or my parents. She will not go anywhere near strangers or most of our friends and neighbors, some of whom have known her for years. And she hates walking outside of our community because she is convinced that every day we leave will be THE DAY we leave her on the streets. It’s not easy being Lucy.
On our walks, drags her feet, desperate to return home. If someone passes us – a cyclist or a jogger – she will look back at the direction they traveled instead of concentrating on the path. She often crashes into Bandit, our other dog, because she’s so focused on what might be behind her.
This got me thinking, how many times have I been so busy looking back, I forgot to look at what’s right in front of me? How many times have I been so intent on reliving what happened in the past, that I’ve completely missed what is happening right now, or what could happen in the future? How many times have I told myself that the mistakes I’ve made define me – and allowed that realization to defeat me?
Far too many.
Of course, there is merit in reviewing your past mistakes and learning from your experiences. I’m not suggesting we stop doing that – like most of you, I will go to great lengths to avoid repeating some of my mistakes and suffering the consequences. I just don’t want to see any of us get derailed in this process because I know how paralyzing and counterproductive it is to live this way.
At some point, we have to transition from beating ourselves up for our mistakes to accepting what we did well, identifying what we can improve upon and taking what we’ve learned and applying it to our next experience. After all, we’re only human – we should be as accepting of our mistakes as we are of those made by others.
It’s taken me a few years to realize this. That’s a long time – I’m tempted to say too long. It would be easy to beat myself up over this. But I won’t do that. I’m just going to learn from my past and do better in the future.
I invite you to join me.