We’ve all made money mistakes that make us wince every time we think about them.
You know, that sinking feeling of regret and guilt that comes up every time you think about the time you bought that new $400 watch that you never wear, but added just that much on to your credit card balance. Or that auto loan you took out six months ago on that great truck, which has since given you no alternative but to cancel your gym membership so that you can scrape up the payment.
If you’ve allowed consumer debt to accumulate, you may feel like it’s too late. You’ve made those mistakes and now you are stuck. You feel like you can’t do anything other than what you have been doing.
As I was reading through this post by James Altucher, I came across this simple, but brilliant statement,
There is always a gap (small or large) between where we are and where we would like to be. The gap is filled with excuses. You don’t have to stop the excuses. It’s hard to do that. Just notice them. Say, “it’s okay. These are just excuses. Eventually I won’t have them.” Forgive yourself before you choose yourself”.
His statement is true of so many areas in our lives, but I thought it was a good sentiment for those who are trying to pay off debt and gain control of our finances. Just because we aren’t in the place that we want to be right now, doesn’t mean we should condemn ourselves to our current situation for all of eternity.
Unfortunately, sometimes we allow our mistakes to define us, keeping us stuck in the present with a hopeless outlook for the future.
Dr. Matthew B. James from Psychology Today, states, “When we’ve done something we regret, we often connect it to a limiting belief like, “I’m always saying the wrong things” or “I’ll never be able to cover my bills.”
A therapist friend once told me, “Just because you made that mistake does not mean that you have to make it again”. Such a simple sentiment, but so true. We can move forward and make the choice to not repeat the mistakes of our past.
Not forgiving ourselves is a punishment we think we deserve. And to let it go means letting go of something we have allowed to become such a part of our thinking, it begins to feel like a part of our own selves.
You are not your past. Your mistakes do not define you. You can choose something different.
First you must forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Only then you can move on.
How do you forgive yourself?
Simply saying, “I forgive myself” is certainly a start but may not be enough.
- You have to want to move forward. If you enjoy wallowing in the guilt of a mistake or failure, you will not be able to forgive yourself and make different choices.
- Remember that every single person who has ever lived has made mistakes. No one is perfect.
- Examine the emotions attached to the memory of the mistake(s). Let go of those associated feelings.
For example, when you think about charging the $400 watch to your credit card, what do you feel? Is it guilt? Is it regret? Identify the exact feeling and let that feeling go.
- Realize your mistakes are just a part of your story. Your story is still being written – you are the author and only you determine how the story ends.
- Recognize mistakes are absolute necessities for propelling us toward success. Mistakes are how we learn. Don’t let the mistakes you have made be for nothing!
- Mistakes need to be owned and then fixed. When you deny your mistakes or blame them on others, you will keep having the same problems over and over again in your life. Once you own your mistake, fix it.
To illustrate this point, let’s say you charged another $200 on your credit card yesterday, adding to an already growing pile of debt. You had the choice to charge that. Don’t take on a victim mentality and place blame elsewhere. Maybe you had to charge that $200 to fix your car so you could get to work. Okay, fine. Today you can choose to start building up a small savings account so you don’t have to rely on your credit card in emergencies the next time.
- Inevitably you will make mistakes again. Accept this as a truth and know that you will have the courage to forgive yourself, learn and make new choices the next time as well.
Commit to forgiving yourself for past mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and make different choices starting today. Move forward.