Last week I wrote a post about the importance of focusing on comparing yourself to your former self. Not long after that went live I read a post from Mel Robbins titled 8 Things to Stop Beating Yourself Up About. Number 8 on her list is along a similar line to what I wrote about:
8. You are not your past.
Many of us get hooked when thinking about the past. Even if you’ve changed and today no longer have the destructive habits and mindsets that you once did, it can be incredibly hard to make peace with your past. However, when you’re making yourself wrong about your past, you’re not being proud of how far you’ve come.
If you want to be happy, you need to forgive yourself for the mistakes that you’ve made and embrace and be proud of where you’re at now. No matter where you are, I know that in several areas of your life you have come a long way. How could you possibly move beyond the mistakes that you’ve made in the past if you’re not proud and celebratory of how far you’ve come?
In my post, in case you didn’t read it, I was explaining how I’m much more fit in my mid forties than I was as a teenager or in my early twenties. Fitness, however, isn’t the only area where I’ve seen considerable growth in my life.
At the time that I met my wife, in my mid-20s, I lacked not only some basic life skills, but also any of the confidence that I needed to believe that I could be a better person. I knew how to cook only a handful of basic things. I was disorganized and constantly forgetting things that I needed to get done. I had a bachelor’s degree in journalism that took me seven years to complete (five years of it in community college trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do and never really having much direction) and was working at a small newspaper for just over minimum wage where I spent half my time doing administrative work instead of any actual journalism.
Now, my wife is a phenomenal cook (thus why I need to work out so much) and seems to have no fear in the kitchen. Compared to her my culinary skills are definitely lacking, but I can cook so many more things than I could 20 years ago. More importantly, my confidence in the kitchen has grown considerably.
I’m now ridiculously organized with a well used calendar, long-term and short-term goals, reminders in place, and rarely does something get overlooked. I have a reputation as somebody who “gets shit done”.
In the past 20 years I’ve also completed another bachelor’s degree, a masters, and a big chunk of a PhD. I’ve easily put ten times the amount of time I spent doing formal education into informal learning about a wide variety of topics because I have a thirst to learn and live a good life, and my goals provide me with much of the direction I lacked in my 20s.
What I’m still quite awful at, however, is celebrating just how far I’ve come, which I think prevents me from experiencing the level of confidence that I should have. It’s easy to hold on to the mistakes we’ve made in the past (we’re also really good at holding on to other people’s mistakes, which doesn’t serve us well either) and letting those serve as blinders to just how much we’ve grown and how awesome we’ve become. I need to look at my growth, and you at your’s, even modest growth and celebrated give a little cheer, call a friend, do something. Then we all need to add that feeling to our storage of confidence and keep growing.
Picture licensed under a CC0 license.