When two people get divorced, both hopefully spend some time reflecting on the mistakes they made, which I believe is really healthy in the healing process, and crucial in moving on after divorce. I’ll even go so far as to say that people who don’t acknowledge and don’t accept responsibility for their mistakes can’t heal. But, when is enough enough? When do you accept the mistakes you made, forgive yourself, learn from them and then move on? The following is a great guest post by psychologist and life coach, Lisa Kaplin, who tells her clients, “What’s done is done!”
What’s Done is Done by Lisa Kaplin
Recently I gave one of my clients the assignment of repeating again and again, “What’s done is done.” Based on her scowling face, I’m pretty sure she didn’t like that assignment. Like many of my clients she seemed to relish the opportunity to beat on herself over things that she’d done in the past. Why is it that we are so willing to hang onto so called mistakes from our past and use them to make ourselves miserable in the present?
Do we get some kind of reward for getting down on ourselves and rehashing the past? And how does it serve us to keep reminding ourselves about our rotten mistakes from the past? Can we change the past if we make ourselves miserable enough? Trust me, we can’t. The past is done and we need to take what we can from it and then move the hell on. Anything else is simply torture.
If you find yourself obsessing about some real or perceived mistake from your past, start by asking yourself if you can change what’s done. Then ask yourself if you can learn something from it? If the answer is yes, then decide what you want to learn and what you want to change for the future. Finally, ask yourself how holding onto this issue from the past is serving you? Is it keeping you from moving forward in some way? Is it allowing you to spend time feeling sorry for yourself? Is that what you want?
Here’s a wild idea, what if there are no mistakes? What if we need to be exactly where we are right now and we got here from things that happened in the past? What if there is something to learn from the past or something about it that led to positive change in our lives? Rarely have I looked back on past “mistakes” and not realized how they have led me to big changes and ultimately a better situation.
Maybe I’ve snapped at one of my children, saw the hurt in their eyes, and realized that I need to change how I talk to them. I apologize sincerely and quickly, pledge new behavior, and then practice putting that behavior into action. That “mistake” led to insight and a change in behavior that makes me and my children feel better. If I sat and mulled over what I’d done, nothing would have been gained from my poor behavior.
We all make mistakes and do things that we regret. Welcome to being a human! Find a way to understand why you did what you did, how you can do it differently next time, and what you will need to change in order to stop that behavior. Obsessing over it won’t help you, those you love, or your ability to change for the future. So it’s time to say, “What’s done is done,” and move on!
Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at Smart Women Inspired Lives. She helps women get happy, get motivated, and get moving in ways they hadn’t thought possible. Lisa is a nationally recognized professional speaker on topics such as stress management, parenting, healthy communication, wellness, and women’s leadership. She is also a blogger and has been featured on Yahoo, Thought Catalog, MSN, Lifetime Moms, Your Tango, and Psychology Today. Lisa is a married mother of three and a joyful dog owner. You can find her here.