UNDOING PAST MISTAKES
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2019, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Clients sometimes ask how they can overcome mistakes they have made in the past. The mistakes can include poor decisions, or hurting others by cheating, lying, stealing, or sexual misconduct. It can be anything that now causes them shame, guilt, anxiety or self-doubt. This article offers suggestions that may help.
WANTING TO CORRECT YOUR MISTAKES IS EXCELLENT. HOLDING ON TO SHAME AND GUILT ARE NOT HELPFUL
A principle is that wanting to undo your errors from the past is very good. However, worrying about it morbidly is not good. Holding on to the idea that you are condemned by God, or a shameful person, and horribly guilty are not helpful. Read the section below on the law of grace if you find yourself plagued by this problem.
HOLD YOURSELF TO HIGH STANDARDS, BUT REALIZE THAT EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!
This is a great truth to understand. No one is perfect, not even you, so relax and stay away from becoming too serious about life.
THE LAW OF GRACE
According to the Hebrew and the Christian Bibles, God forgives mankind for many sins or misdeeds. Do not hold on to the idea that you will never be forgiven for something you have done. This is actually a form of egotism, as though your problem is so bad that God could not possibly forgive you and lift it off your shoulders.
Never think this way. Just proceed as best you can, realizing that grace and forgiveness are real and possible for you, no matter what you have done. Begin each day asking for guidance, grace, mercy and forgiveness. This is fine and usually all that is needed to help invoke the law of grace.
TELL A FRIEND
Telling a good friend about your misdeeds can be freeing. It can help begin the healing process.
Anne Jackson wote a book entitled Permission To Speak Freely: Essays and Articles on Fear, Confession And Grace. In this very good book, the author tells her own story and relates how important it can be to tell at least one friend or other person about what you have done. This, she says, can often begin a healing process. Holding on to secrets, on the other hand, is often not helpful.
Be prepared for the other person to not want to hear about it. However, if you can summon the courage to share what has occurred, this often is helpful.
SETTLING OLD DEBTS
Another helpful idea is to settle old debts and other things as best you can, but only if you can do it safely. For example, you can even return money or things anonymously if you don’t feel it is safe to contact a particular person. This can help you to forgive yourself, a necessary step to heal old wounds and errors.
READ BIOGRAPHIES OF PEOPLE WHO OVERCAME SERIOUS PROBLEMS
This is very helpful to get beyond fear, doubt and self-pity. You may want to look for books about overcoming guilt and shame. There are many available. We particularly enjoyed reading the story of Booker T. Washington, George Carver, Nicola Tesla, Bucky Fuller and many others who started life with many problems and managed to overcome them and to live wonderful lives of service and achievement.
LIVE A LIFE OF SERVICE
Living a life of service can help “make up for” or compensate for any shortcomings earlier in your life. This means working diligently with the intent to help others, rather than just focusing on earning money or gaining a position of power or prestige.
Being of service is about your attitude. It has very little to do with what kind of service you will do or offer. You may decide to work hard, be a good parent or mate, donate time to a worthwhile charity, help the poor, or any number of activities. You may decide to help out at your church or synagogue, pray for others and teach them how to live, or something else.
What really matters in the life of service is your attitude that you are not living just for yourself, but to assist others in their life journey in some way. It involves giving up the self-centered and selfish life that most people lead to one degree or another.
To help you stay focused on your service, begin and end each day with a prayer and a request that you achieve a high level of health and wellness, and say, “God, take me, and use me this day to do Thy Will and to be Thy Will in action”. It is possible if you say this that, at times, you will get the message to just rest and relax. That is okay, too.
BECOME A SERVANT OF GOD
Begin to think of yourself as God’s servant or helper. This is a totally positive focus that also just happens to bring about a life of joy and fulfillment like no other.
This means do not waste time as most people do on frivolous and self-centered activities such as a lot of shopping, a lot of vacations, watching a lot of television or movies, playing on the computer, a lot of visiting with friends, and so on.
And whatever you are doing, you can extend yourself and be a helper, but always do it in a way that is safe for you.
These simple steps can help most anyone out of guilt, fear, shame, and depression over past mistakes. They can turn a life of shame and despair into one of inspiration, hope and joy.