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How to Get Over Past Mistakes

by Danielle Wright | Download the Branndet App this Fall

We all make mistakes…and sometimes these mistakes can bring with them some unintended karma. Memories of the past can connect you with parts of yourself that you’ve left behind. It’s important not to get too caught up with negative emotions and dwell on past mistakes.

But if you find yourself experiencing intrusive thoughts, then it may just be rumination. Rumination is when you’re stuck in a loop of repeated negative thoughts about the past, and you can’t seem to stop even if you want to. According to Psych Central, “This negative thought cycle can impact your mental health and also intensify symptoms if you already live with depression or anxiety.”

There are two types of things to consider…when you’ve wronged someone and when someone has wronged you and you struggle with forgiving them.

Related articles: How to Forgive a Cheater

If you’ve wronged someone and struggle with forgiving yourself and moving forward then you may be experiencing some guilt or regret. Both are natural feelings that can hold us back from doing things to make situations better for those we hurt. If the person you’ve wronged is accessible then you want to begin by apologizing. You do this by first acknowledging the mistake and vowing to change. An apology without change is manipulation, that is not what you’re going for here. The best thing you can do for yourself and the person you’ve hurt is to not dwell on the mistake, but rather improve your behavior towards them.

According to Daniel Marston PH.D. “Nonhuman animals, for instance, do not dwell on mistakes. They do not ignore but do not dwell on them. When animals lose a battle, often due to mistakes like misjudging an opponent or poor strategy, they accept what happened and move on as best they can. It would not be correct to say that they ignore the mistake but, rather, they incorporate the mistake and loss into how they move on in the future. Staying “future-focused” helps animals keep their eyes open on doing what they can to make things better despite what just happened.”

It's okay to feel sad and remorseful for doing something that hurt someone else because these are normal responses. The worry would come from not feeling these things and believing yourself to be without fault. A lack of remorse can be rooted in selfishness, ruthlessness, sadism, and socio-pathetic behavior. Even if your behavior is rooted in retaliation, for most, this can only give us a temporary feeling of relief. Over time you may come to regret the way you behaved or responded to a particular act. Michelle Obama once said, “When they go low, you go high.”

The reason behind this statement is that long-term guilt will surface. At this point, you will end up feeling sad and apologetic to someone who hurt you. Your negative reaction will then overshadow their negative action leaving you with the bag to carry. Sit in your feminine energy and respond with silence to an unfavorable act. The best thing you can do for yourself is practice mindfulness and work on your self-awareness. This is having the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with internal standards. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

What if you struggle with forgiveness? Now let’s say you were wronged and you struggle with forgiving another person or even yourself…immediately you should remember that forgiveness is not for the other person, forgiveness is for you. Forgiving someone does not mean allowing them the chance to return to your life or giving them a pass for crappy behavior. Forgiving someone means that you are ready to let the hurt go to begin your journey to healing and fulfillment. When you hold onto the past you are essentially holding onto the person as well. Choosing to hate someone or dwell on what they’ve done to you, is torture to your soul. Why would you want to remember someone who was not nice to you? Precisely, you do not. You want to forgive them as a way of letting them go and allowing your mind to rest.


Never underestimate the power of forgiveness, whether for you or someone else. If you’re struggling with forgiving yourself for past mistakes it’s okay. You have to confront yourself with some uncomfortable truths, one of which is your unwillingness. Why are you unwilling to forgive yourself? Is it because you don’t think you deserve to heal? Is it because you don’t feel you’ve been punished enough? Is it because you think that forgiving yourself will open the door for the behavior to happen again? Is it because the person you’ve wronged hasn’t forgiven you?

Overthinking is usually the number one culprit for this. You keep on thinking about what will happen next without trying to forgive yourself. To move forward you should take the time to process what happened. Go over things in your mind, alone with your thoughts, and ask yourself,

“Why did this happen?”

“Why did I react this way?”

“Is this something that I can fix?”

“How can I do better next time?”

“Was this a trigger for me?”

Understanding the type of mistake you made and why will help you to heal and forgive yourself. There is no use beating yourself up over something you cannot change, the past is the past. Most mistakes you’ve made are probably almost always worth forgiving yourself for. You are not a failure. When you internalize self-doubt to the point of believing that you are a failure, your body absorbs it. You probably have a lot of demands on you, so it should come as no surprise that not everything is perfect.

You cannot satisfy the world. When you define yourself by your mistakes you are giving your control away, which will make you feel even worse. You are more than your past mistakes.


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