Last week some friends and I were discussing self-acceptance. In particular, we were focused on the topic of regret. It came up because I noticed that I tend to classify those things that didn’t turn out the way I expected as being “bad decisions”.
Although I certainly don’t berate myself in this regard nearly as much as I used to, I was still judging myself. I was still thinking that if only I had been more discerning, then I would have made a different decision. And, of course, it would have been a better decision.
My friend listened attentively, as only a good friend can do. Then, he shared his belief that there was another possible conclusion to draw from the matter. Instead of viewing those decisions as indications that I had failed in some way, he offered an alternative.
“How do you know that those things that you are having a hard time accepting about yourself aren’t the very things that brought you to where you are today and who you are today?” he challenged me.
When I thought about it from this perspective, I saw that he was right. It was during those particular journeys that I grew exponentially. It was during those seasons that I learned things I could not have learned any other way.
I realized, then, that I had been judging myself based on the outcome. Since the outcome of each decision was not what I had anticipated, I blamed myself. Yet, the reality is that no matter how carefully we weigh the options, we can’t control the outcome.
There are too many factors involved for us to be responsible for everything that happens as a result of any decision we make. Since we are not in control of the universe, the best we can do is to do the best we can do. Beyond that, we simply must trust that everything happens for a reason.
Of course, no one wants to fail at anything. Yet, the truth is that failure is absolutely essential to success. However, I wonder if it might help for us to use kinder semantics. Perhaps we need to stop thinking of them as failures and start viewing them as learnings. After all, we might have failed to accomplish our intended outcome, but we likely succeeded in learning a great deal!
If we are going to succeed at something, we must first persevere through a very many learnings. If we resist these learnings, or judge ourselves for them, we will surely hinder our success. But if we embrace them in a spirit of self-acceptance as being absolutely necessary for our growth, then we can begin to be kinder toward ourselves.
It is wonderfully freeing to be able to release regret and to, instead, embrace self-acceptance. It moves us to a place where instead of berating ourselves, we can express gratitude. When we make that significant shift, the whole world opens up to us. It is then, that we can begin to discover all we were created to do and to be.