It's difficult to reflect on times gone by and not want to cringe super hard. We all make mistakes. We all presume that we're alone in making them. As if you were the only person wearing neon leg warmers in the noughties, get over yourself!
That said, I sometimes struggle with putting my mistakes and experiences into workable, productive changes for the future. This is largely because I don't like to look my mistakes in the eye and actually address them.
I want to compartmentalize them and tuck them away into the folds of my tiny brain where they can never impact me again. The issue with this though is that it's both emotionally unhealthy and you aren't giving yourself a chance to learn from them.
In order to not make the mistakes again, we have to actually acknowledge that they exist
Sorry guys, I know the pictures of us with that Twilight make-up and checked-green skirt didn't age well, but you weren't the only one wearing them!
The important thing to remember when looking back over the years is that we're always going to feel ashamed or embarrassed about our selves. Even presuming that our current selves are cool or secure in themselves is ludicrous.
In three months I'll be cringing at my current self, no question. What matters is that we enjoyed ourselves at the time. It was fine then, whatever the issues were that we hate now.
We made the decisions we made because it made sense for who we were at the time
Yes, that person may have changed with time, but that doesn't mean that we didn't have fun then. That we didn't think we were the coolest thing since sliced bread.
That said, sometimes we need to reflect on the past and think critically, not sympathetically. However, you have to make sure you don't linger on the negative memories when in fact lots of fun, positive things still happened to you.
Just as light isn't the absence of darkness, sad memories do not erase the happy ones. You only have to look for them in the right places.
Even in relationships, sometimes perspective can be the best medicine
Yes, you needed an enemy to shout at and to blame after the breakup, but maybe just maybe you will realize that you also had a share in the blame. After all, it may take two to tango but it also takes two to break up a relationship.
I won't let my past mistakes or relationships hurt me by not dealing with the trauma associated with them. I can draw on them, be empowered, and a better, bigger person for acknowledging them.
Even if it means realizing some uncomfortable truths. The ex that you thought toxic and kicked to the curb? Well, maybe the reason all your relationships since him have failed is that you still have feelings for him? Who knows, but it might be worth giving it another shot.
After all, if 2020 is the year of not letting people hurt us, we have to include ourselves in that too. We are our own harshest critic and worst enemy. We presume that we always know best. While we may know ourselves best, we don't always have the perspective necessary to make the best decision.
But again, we can't just forgive people who aren't worth forgiving
This isn't an excuse to let toxic people back into our lives. This is a chance to get clarity and ensure we respect ourselves and the people around us with decision making.
We can't go hurting other people with long since dead drama, either.
The golden rule for not letting things hurt you this year, though? Forgive yourself. And mean it.