1. My Intentions Were Good
The first thing I do when I mess up is remind myself that I meant well. Everything we do is about intentions. If we conducted ourselves with good intentions then what more could we have done?
Example: I forget birthdays, anniversaries and that kind of thing a lot. We're talking on a weekly basis. Sometimes I get in a bit of trouble for this, and every time it's gutting to realise that someone's special day slipped by (a close friend, a sibling, niece or nephew) and I didn't get a card / gift to them. However, they surely know that I love them all year round (the truth is this year I don't have any birthdays written in my diary or phone - this needs to change!) and I didn't mean to overlook their birthday. Some people are not bothered if you forget their birthday, and some really are. My intentions were good, I meant to remember, but I didn't. Usually I try to make up for it with a belated present / card.
Of course there are much more serious or hurtful examples we can all think of, where we messed up big time, and at the moment of realisation of what we've done and what it might have caused, the world seems to stand still and we have that massive sinking feeling. My mantra still stands though: if your intentions were good, you did your best, and that's all you can do.
2. No-one is Perfect and Nor Are Our Choices
People mess up all the time. Every day, 24 hours a day, messings up are taking place on a grand scale across the globe. Perfection is not achievable. You messed up on this, but you can try again to achieve what it was you were trying to do. If you have to make amends with someone, explain to them the thinking behind Point 1 and they might be able to understand that you had no evil motive. You just didn't think it through properly, or you were too hasty, or you had a lot on your mind. You aren't perfect and you would like another chance to get things right. There is no point having regrets when you can't undo what you've done and the best thing to concentrate your efforts on is what's happening NOW and not what has already happened.
Example: I worked in London for about a decade and during that time I got a mortgage on a little studio flat. It was a right bargain in a converted match factory in the East End and served me very well while I was there. I rented it out for a while when I moved back to Cheltenham and I decided to sell the flat in order to buy a house here. Recently I checked out the value of my old flat online and it's now worth a whopping £328,000 more than I bought it for. Wow! What a huge error I made with that decision, financially. Not a perfect choice at all.
On the other hand, the house here has a garden, we have dogs, my son has spent most of his childhood here and we have loads of happy memories. It's like a haven for us and is right near our families. Money can't buy everything, so although my selling the flat wasn't a smart move to make financially, it was a life choice that I cannot regret.
3. I Can Learn From This
Whenever we mess up there is a lesson in there somewhere, if we choose to see it. If we forget a birthday, that would be a good time to note it in the diary for next year. If we make a bad decision with money, it's an ideal time to pay some attention to our finances and make sure we are being sensible about them. If we had a turbulent relationship, we can educate ourselves about how to create a more peaceful one, if our partner is willing, or to move away from the situation if not, and prepare ourselves for a calm relationship with an understanding partner. If we said something wrong, offended someone or shared a secret that wasn't ours to tell, we can take a look at ourselves and our behaviour and make a mental note to act more carefully and considerately next time.
Example: Back in the London days I decided to have breast implants. I took out a bank loan and had the surgery. Now all these years later I have to decide whether to have them replaced or removed, because you're meant to get them changed every few years. Now I have a lump in one of them and need an ultrasound, so if everything's not OK, it will be decision time again.
The lesson may be to make wiser and healthier choices for my body.
We can't get through life without the occasional mistake. In fact, some of us can't get through a day without them. We are doing our best, and so are the people around us, and there must have been a reason why things went the way they did. Dwelling on it is only going to make it feel worse. Moving on makes sense.
Love Sal x