Carrying burdens of past mistakes is like lugging around rocks that weigh us down.
Like rocks in your pockets when you were a kid, now you can set them down and you can move forward freely. Or you can put all your rocks someplace special.
Do you remember being a kid and picking up those cool amazing rocks and shoving these treasures into your many pockets? I think we carry these rocks of our past around just like little kids put them into their pockets. I never understood the fascination kids had with rocks, but I certainly see the fascination adults have with their stories about the past.
(Parents you can attest that for some reason unbeknownst to you, your children are fascinated by rocks, pebbles, sand, dirt and have reverted to sticking rocks in every available pocketed place. You find them on laundry day, or scattered throughout the house.)
Many of us keep walking around carrying the burden of what we’ve done or said in the past like these same rocks in our backpack. As we get older, the rocks just keep piling up and the backpack has one of those nifty expansion zippers so it can expand as much as needed. What if we let go of our past by releasing these rocks?
The weight of those many rocks represents the burden of the decisions, choices, and actions we’ve taken along our path. We tend to only dwell on those we consider mistakes. I’m offering you a reframe.
As a self professed former screw-up I’d like to tell you what I learned along the journey that helped me set down my many rocks.
My three-step formula for releasing my rocks:
- “Bless The Mess”
Bless the Mess
“I created this situation, circumstance or outcome and I am fully accountable. I own it.”
In some ways, it’s a blessing to see what my lively internal machinations created on the outside. “So THAT didn’t work.” And learn to be OK with the mess — it’s a blessing to be able to appreciate and make changes going forward. I couldn’t make changes without first seeing my messes.
Realizing my mess can show me or teach me something opens me up to stop fighting it. Or hiding it. Or wishing it was different, or to trying to play make-believe: making myself look good and non-messy. Countless times I blamed myself for messes, and held myself in judgment. It never helped, I didn’t grow. Learning how to step back and observe and even appreciate my messes is what changed me. And in that opening I finally have the option of creation; I can create something new based on the mess in front of me. No judgement.The past is a nice place to visit but don’t get stuck there.
“You can’t make art without first making a mess.” — me (used to make me feel better in messy times)
“What is the lesson here? What did THIS show up to teach me? What am I supposed to learn here?”
Many people try to avoid confusion: I’ve been a big proponent on avoidance in the past. From my work in Clarity, I’ve learned that confusion is a state of in-between and it can be a good thing. It’s a place where new choices can be made, your brain is taking in new information.
Every situation offers us a learning opportunity, whether or not we choose to learn from it.
In the past I thought things happened to me and I was more of a victim of my circumstances. I was more of a “Why me?” kind of person. But there was no power there, as a victim of whatever life throws at you. Now I know things happen for me, and I look for the lessons.
“I did the best I could based on all the information I had at that time. I wasn’t trying to create a mess, but it happened.”
I did what I could with all I knew at that time. And if I need to learn something new, to gain different results, then I will set down my rocks (burdens) and go learn. By accepting that I did the best that I could at the time based on what I knew I can relieve some of the pressure of my perfectionist tendencies. Since I was never able to meet my own perfectionism, often times I would fail without trying. Procrastination is often times feel used by perfectionists to save them from disappointment. If you don’t finish something you can avoid the potential of disappointing yourself.
Procrastination is actually based on a fear. The fear of you disappointing yourself or someone else.
With these three steps, I learned that I am not a victim and that each thing that happens in my life as an opportunity for me to learn from it. And that’s where the true power lies. In this moment, right now, by learning from all the other moments put together.
So for any of you self-professed screw ups that continue to see messes in your life: try these. You’ve got nothing to lose but a backpack full of rocks.
Photo credit: Getty Images