How many times do we have to remind ourselves of our mistakes? Seriously. Answer that question for yourself. How many times do you NEED to recount a mistake you’ve made in order for you to be satisfied that you’re aware of that transgression? I believe that there is an itch within us that may never be satisfied. It’s like a shame monster that constantly needs to be fed. So the mind brings up our own mistakes over and over and over again. You could be in the middle of an ordinary day and see a color or smell a fragrance and immediately you are reminded of the way you hurt someone or how you cheated the system in the past. And then, the shame monster just sinks it’s teeth into you and doesn’t let go for hours… days… weeks… even months at a time. Why is that?
Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements says, “True justice is paying only once for each mistake. True injustice is paying more than once for each mistake.” He goes on to say, “How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer is thousands of times. The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake they make. But not us. We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that was enough; we don’t need to do it again. But every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again, and again, and again.”
The question is, why do we do this over and over again? I believe at the heart of this matter is a pathway to freedom. Freedom to forgive ourselves. Freedom to love ourselves unconditionally. The truth is, paying for a mistake once IS enough. It just is. So feel the remorse. Feel the regret. But then move on. Verbally tell yourself that you forgive yourself… even if you don’t believe. In fact you can say out loud, “Even though I don’t feel like it, I totally and completely forgive myself.” The spoken word is extremely powerful.
Could you imagine a life where you accepted yourself just as you are? Where you loved yourself just the way you are without making a single change?
Almost every time I ask this question to a client or at a speaking engagement, someone will in turn ask me this… “But if I accept and love myself just the way I am, where will my motivation to change come from?” My answer is always the same. Love IS the greatest motivational factor in all change. If you love yourself unconditionally, at the center of who you are, you will want to begin to show yourself love with your actions and with the way you think about yourself and life.
So how many times do you need to be reminded of your failures and mistakes? If you have forgiven yourself, isn’t that enough? Don’t you deserve justice? Maybe you could learn to ‘let it go’.