I make mistakes every day. Bad decisions. Wrong choices. Even when I know better! My emotions get the better of me, and I end up in a place where I had no intention of going. I am not perfect – far from it – even though I try hard to better myself.
It’s human to err. And I can accept that. But I will not resign myself to foolish behavior when I know better. I can learn from my mistakes. It’s not a complete disaster if I keep repeating the same errors in judgment. Sometimes I learn quickly, sometimes slowly.
I used to beat myself up when I screwed up. Mistakes were intolerable, and having my shortcomings revealed to others devastating. Shame consumed me, driving me to repeat the same sins over and over – which caused me to further despise myself.
Shame became a cycle where I spiraled down into self loathing, and finally turned to addiction in order to cope with the pain. The pain of self loathing would trigger the tremendous need to act out. But continually engaging in my addiction would spawn more shame and self loathing ending in more acting out… on and on.
In recovery I have learned to gain wisdom from my mistakes. There is always something to gain, even from my shortcomings. There is no need for self loathing; I know that I am worthwhile even when I go astray. I can always come back to the program and begin again.
Over the years my self image has improved, and as a result, my shame has diminished. I feel guilty about some things I’ve done, and rightly so. But I don’t need to beat myself up any more. I can learn and gain wisdom from my foolish mistakes. It is the blunder that causes me the greatest guilt and remorse that I can learn from the most.
We have to live our own lives, profit from our blunders, and learn from our experience. Nobody can do these things for us. The greatest wisdom comes from life’s hardest lessons; therefore, it is by the grace of God that I am able to learn wisdom.
“Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it” (Step 10)