You are not your mistakes. Your mistakes don’t define you. Far too many of us, far too many times, have been conditioned and programmed to just go with the ebb and flow of life. We live our lives not to the fullest; meaning, not optimally to seize opportunities and face challenges to overcome our fears – but rather to a very secular, linear, monotonous loop of simply going through the motions.
We’ve all felt truly overwhelmed by all the things the world throws our way. And these are no small-potatoes circumstances. In reality, survival, in every classical sense of the term, is hell on earth.
Life is riddled with problems. Often, the more complex the problems become, the more negligent we are in dealing with them. We grow complacent, languorous, even resentful in a laid back, too-chilled-for-comfort sort of way.
It’s much easier to tuck away our problems hoping they would magically disappear than to actually go face to face with the damned elephant in the room – but why?
Well, because to face our own demons, to go head-to-head and tail-to-toe with the divine self of doubt, derision, and discontent means we need to first and foremost admit to ourselves that, yes, there’s a problem alright. And a large part of that aforesaid problem perhaps starts with ourselves.
Too lax for comfort
Thing is, somewhere along the way, we’ve learned to settle for mediocrity, to accept habitual gratification of indulging our egos with flattery and narcissism. Somewhere along the way we have grown accustomed and lazy, so that we make excuses, blame others for our problems, and tend to shy away and shun taking accountability for our own decisions.
Everyone makes mistakes, right? After all, Pope Alexander once famously said: “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”
It is part of the construct of our mortal coil to err. To screw up. To fail at things. To make mistakes. If we did not, we wouldn’t have the capacity or perspicacity to correct ourselves, to deconstruct our ideologies, beliefs, sentiments, and thoughts in order to re-align and re-adapt ourselves to grow and evolve.
If we did not err, we wouldn’t know how to fix problems, how to improve situations, and solve all those complex puzzles that life and the world are apt to toss our way.
So, we grasp this in a sort of pseudo-analytical theoretical way, but are unable to process it with deeper meaning to implicate and apply this to our day to day lives.
But to go back to the late Pope’s quote, perhaps the issue at hand is not quite that human beings have a natural tendency to gravitate towards error, but rather that we find it much harder to forgive others of their mistakes, and maybe even find it harder still to forgive ourselves.
Now that’s something to think about.
I know the pieces fit ’cause I watched them tumble down
No fault, none to blame, it doesn’t mean I don’t desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication
Schism – Tool
I have known people who never change their lives, because instead of concentrating their efforts in improving themselves, they spend all their time loathing, being envious, bitter, and accusing those within their ecosystems of ruining their chances and opportunities at some juncture or point in their lives.
Parents take quite a bludgeoning
Some are called out or rather accused of not paying enough attention or being attuned to the plight of their offspring. Others are blamed for being overly possessive and controlling to the point where their children grow up as paler versions of themselves.
If you are clinging onto some childhood grievance or parental anomaly that resulted in you being insulted, injured, or emotionally scarred, and you keep extrapolating and using that as your excuse throughout your life to keep endorsing poor habits, then chances are you really need to grow thicker skin and just accept that life is never fair nor overly generous.
Stand in line. Join the never-ending queue where a great many have at some point felt negligence, disinterest, denial, and indifference at the hands of a parent or guardian.
Spouses too take quite a beating when it comes to the blame-game. We see it often where marriages start to disintegrate, after those early romantic sparks sizzle and die out, where a large schism occurs in the relationship where you grow further apart from each other.
We hear people complain, bicker, and blame their spouses for how miserable their lives have turned out to be, and when one wonders that if indeed it takes two hands to clap, then perhaps there might be some element of truth that perhaps the fault may not entirely be on your partner or spouse.
What have you done to nip a problem in the bud? Have you sought to resolve an issue by taking the higher road less travelled and by owning up and taking charge of your mistakes?
How have you sought to make amends – by further igniting a tense situation by dousing fuel to the flames? Or are you patient and calm enough to let the proverbial storm pass you by before you can address the problem and reach a solution by amiably discussing the matter at hand?
Friendships also feel the strains of tension, conflict, and disruptiveness. Sometimes even the most close-knit bonds are strained and the fibrous connective tissues lacerated, whether it’s from over-familiarity, some long hidden grudge that’s festered, or some past incident that keeps re-triggering over and over again.
Often, friendships are tried and tested due to unreasonably high expectations we place on others, so that when they fail us or aren’t there for us in their capacities, we feel let down or even betrayed.
In my experience, all of the above can be addressed, and much of it dealt with periodically and systematically, with sound, steadfast communication.
No matter who’s at fault, we need to be able to identify how much someone else means to us, how much value they add to our lives, before asking ourselves the same question vice versa. Do we add value to someone else’s life? If so, admitting to a mistake and facing the consequences, while the hardest thing to do, might very well end up being the most prudent thing.
Finally, we need to establish that mistakes are a big part of what makes the world go round; It is from our mistakes that we learn how to avoid making them again, make identifiable changes in our lives to discover our truest potential, lay brick upon brick of a foundation to strengthen our resolve, and fight the challenges we face and conquer our own predicaments, demons, and fears.
We learn from the mistakes of others of what we should never say and do, never become, and how we ought to have higher benchmarks to inspire ourselves. Whatever goes down, we need to stop assuming we have all the answers – because we don’t.
It is through experience that we err, and it is by erring that we experience life. And without experience life becomes a stagnant quest of stunted discovery. To learn to become better versions of ourselves, we must reflect.
He who knows all the answers, has not asked the right questions
(The writer is the frontman and lyricist of Stigmata, a creative consultant and brand strategist by profession, a self-published author and poet, thespian, animal rescuer, podcaster, and fitness enthusiast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication)