How you benefit everyday from ‘being stupid’ in the past

Even long after you've forgiven yourself for past mistakes they may still pop into your mind now and again as you find yourself thinking “boy was I stupid”.

A fantastic way to utilise these mistakes is to remember all you learnt from them. If you’re not sure what you learnt, rack your brain till you identify what you did. Perhaps you wouldn’t be who you are without them. Perhaps they happened for a reason (even if you never find out what that reason is). Maybe without them you wouldn’t have come to the great place in your life you are at now (or will be at in the future). Some people have stories like recovering from a nasty divorce; they take a holiday and end up meeting the true love of their life. They have the divorce to thank for that – they see their previous marriage had a purpose – to get them on that holiday!

We humans aren’t born with a foolproof mindset. We are left to learn and grow as we go. Nobody makes the best decisions or takes the right actions 100% of the time. It takes stuff ups and experience to learn what works and what doesn’t in our individual lives.

I sometimes think of incidents that happened in my teens and think “boy was I stupid”. I realise that thinking that is totally ridiculous as at the time I was “doing the best I could with what I had” (meaning my mental resources and knowledge). There is no need for me to be hard on myself about things just because I now know better. As a teen it seems I was seriously lacking a sense of self, and an awareness of what I should and shouldn’t tolerate. I’m referring to things like:
*allowing myself to be made a joke of and disrespected by the guys in our ‘group’ (they decided they didn’t like me)
*trying time and again to ‘prove myself worthy’ of being liked by them
*allowing school peers to impact my views. When I got the smokin’ ‘posh spice’ haircut I got called an ugly lesbian. Instead of realising the people making the comments were a) of no consequence b) bitchy and c) not exactly ‘style guru’s’ I doubted my choice of haircut.
*When a boy emailed me to tell me I was ugly and had an “out of proportion body” (he was referring to my curvaceous buttock and lack of chest at age 14). Instead of realising that he was nothing but skin and bones (very very very literally), he had big braces (and I later found out from a friend had a very small ‘area’ – touché!) I was determined to get this guy to change his mind and think I was a great girl.

What a waste of time!!! I wish I’d had the confidence to live for me, trusting only my inner compass.

I also see now how little other peoples opinions matter. When I was 15, a friend and I smoked the odd cigarette. A popular guy and girl in our group of friends were constantly riding a very, very high horse about how stupid we were and what losers we were for smoking. Anyway, a year on and we’d passed that experimental smoking stage, and guess who had taken it up!? (Talk about behind the times…late developers!). I saw then that “adamant teenage opinions” were very fragile and best ignored! Again… my inner compass should have been what I took notice of.

I’m aged 24 now which kind of explains why the teen years are still ‘close by’ in my mind. Looking back on things like this I am disappointed that I didn’t THEN have the mindset, self belief and sense of strength I now do. If my ‘today self’ was in those situations I would have absolutely zero tolerance for being treated as I was, caring about such peoples opinions or feeling the need to prove myself worthy to them. Now I see these situations and people for what they are. Back then, I was too busy trying to be accepted and liked.

I suppose what I can take from those experiences is knowledge of what unhealthy relationships are and how important self esteem and belief really are. Maybe if I hadn’t experienced such relationships then, I’d have to experience them now to learn those lessons (no thank you!). It does feel good to look back and know there is no way in hell you’d tolerate such relationships now – you can actually see the growth. It’s great to see how different you really are.

It’s quite amazing how we can divert our brains back to days gone by and remember what was going through our minds at different stages of our lives. Especially when hindsight tells us to give ourselves a good shake and scream “stop thinking like an idiot”. I do truly believe that every single thing in life happens for a reason, though some we may never learn the actual reason. But that doesn’t stop us looking back and thinking those dreaded words “boy was I stupid”. An occasional thought like this isn’t going to kill us or our self esteem – as long as we keep a hold of perspective. It is actually a growth tool and proof of how far we’ve come. This topic needs further exploration – what are you thoughts on things you have forgiven yourself for but still remember and cringe?