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Overcoming Past Mistakes

July 2nd, 2014 by Hale Dwoskin

So you made a mistake. This is nothing new or particularly mind-blowing, as everyone makes them sometimes. But with each mishap, however big or small, you hold within your grasp an opportunity to either move forward or take a few steps back. Unfortunately, rather than using your errors as stepping stones to future success, many of us end up dwelling on them so much that we become obsessed, stuck, and unable to overcome past mistakes.

When you dwell on what did not work from the past, two things happen. First off, what you give your attention to tends to expand. So if you spend a lot of time thinking about your mistakes you tend to simply repeat them – even though your mind is telling you the opposite. The other thing that happens when you dwell on your mistakes is that you sabotage your self-confidence.

Dwelling on mistakes, or ruminating excessively, has in fact been linked with depression and other negative emotions.

In one study by psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, it was found that people who dwelled excessively on negative emotions after losing a loved one were at a high risk for long-term depression.

Similarly, ruminating over a mistake you made at work, feeling regret over something you said in an argument, or dwelling on a fight with your neighbor puts you at risk of similar emotional upheaval.

“It’s natural to look inward,” Nolen-Hoeksema says in a CNN article, “but while most people pull out when they’ve done it enough, an over-thinker will stay in the loop.”

Similarly, a study by Abigail Stewart, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, found that women who did not dwell on things they failed to say or do prior to losing a loved one not only recovered faster, but also gained benefits such as newfound wisdom and greater self-awareness.

Are You a Dweller?

If you have a tendency to dwell on mistakes (you know who you are!), there is a simple step you can take to move forward.

Instead of dwelling I recommend that you let go of the feelings that you have about the past and give your mind something positive to focus on instead – like how you have succeeded in the past or how you are succeeding now.

You can use The Sedona Method to help you in the process of letting go, as this is really the key to freeing yourself from this unnecessary self-criticism.

The more you learn to let go of your past mistakes, and instead find things about yourself that you can love, appreciate and accept, the more positive your life will become.


6 Responses to “Overcoming Past Mistakes”

  1. Mami says:

    Hi, Hale.

    I postponed my retreat to December, but I miss Sedona so much!

    My past mistakes, especially the ones I felt embarrassed about myself, often come back to me like a flashback. They are the ones I really want to forget and it’s not that I am thinking about it and wish I had not done, but rather, coming up suddenly randomly. When you find myself speak suddenly, that’s when they come up. Often, they are not serious mistakes. But it’s such a strong feeling of shame and I feel a bit strange about myself on this.

    Like Hale advised me before, am I punishing myself by having this?

    How does releasing help?

    • Alex Viefhaus says:

      When you release one of the goals of releasing is to get to courageousness, acceptance or peace.

      So when something comes up that you normally feel ashamed of, you can release to acceptance that it happened or even peace with it.

      Welcome the feelings or let them go. Let go of wanting to change something and you let in acceptance and peace.

  2. Kathy says:

    I am a dweller. And now that I’m practicing to release, I fine a question about welcoming my negative feelings and thought. In order to release them completely, I try to bring up my negative feelings and thought, but when I do that(I’m really success on this one),I felt bad. So I do my best to welcome all the negative feelings but can’t release them. When I let them go and feel less uncomfortable, I try to bring the same type feeling out again(I want to release all of them completely), and it’s there again. I’m not sure if I’m doing it correctly on releasing them or I’m just ruminating the feelings and put myself bake to the loop. How can I distinguish? Thank you.

    • Alex Viefhaus says:

      Whether you release the feeling or welcome it, the one that works for you is the right one. Sometimes it’s easier to release, by asking the releasing questions and other times welcoming the feeling fits better.

      You can always recreate a negative feeling. It’s something we have a lot of experience with. We need more experience in letting the negative feelings go. So when you recreate and pull up negative feelings, let them go. A similar feeling may take it’s place so let go again. Keep letting go until you get to courageousness, acceptance or peace. If you stop before you’ve reached that point, it doesn’t mean you’re bad or doing it wrong. It means there is more releasing you can do to get to courageousness, acceptance or even peace with the issue.

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