Shutting Down the Negativity of Past Mistakes

The past is a mental photo album. Some pages are full of happy moments that we breath in with love, while others are painful reminders of poor decisions.  

We all relive moments from our past that are embarrassing, the kind we wish just never happened at all. Well, sorry it happened. If you want to learn how to reframe the experience, and forgive yourself, then I have a story for you.


Recently I met up with a girlfriend for a glass of much deserved happy hour wine. She’s an on the go business executive, and I’m an over-committed introvert, so needless to say getting our schedules to align is no easy task. The day finally came and we met at a dimly lit bar and restaurant, the ambiance seductively whispered  “come kick up your heels and let the work day wash away.” I walked in and saw her comfortably perched at the bar, sipping champagne, and looking breathtaking as always. She was dressed in a stunning faux fur coat, multi colored floral blouse, snow white pants, and kissed with gold accessories. 

As always, she was the embodiment of polished perfection.

I pulled up the stool next to her, ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and let go of an emotionally exhausting work day. We cheered to a long awaited reunion and got to gabbing.

We discussed a myriad of topics ranging from spirituality, to politics, to dance fitness, and even worked in how she quit smoking 5 years ago. The conversation had depth, and levity at the same time.    

At one point we started talking about our yesteryears, and some not so fun experiences. She said; “You know I have these flashes of things I did or said years ago and I still think ‘why would I say that’, or ‘gosh I’m so embarrassed’, or ‘I cant believe that happened’, and I get hung up on it.”

This kind of shame recall is something that everyone deals with. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a homeless person panhandling on a corner. The past is something that houses happy memories, and contains cringe worthy conversations. Even after devoting myself to years of self improvement, rigorous soul searching, and in-depth self forgiveness, the flash backs still came up.

One day while I was meditating an excruciatingly humiliating experience came to the forefront of my mind. The flash back was vivid and I relived every painful detail. Trying to redirect the thought out of my mind, I focused on my breathing. But instead of getting the memory diverted I had the following thought flash:

“In that moment, I was doing the best I could, knowing what I knew.”

I had spent so much time focusing on my damaged pride, I had completely neglected to see the experience as something I could grow from. It was a moment of clarity. Very quickly the humiliation was transformed into compassion and, a sense of release washed over me.

Now the best part is this affirmation can be applied to any situation. You can use it on past conversations, or even past actions. It may take repeating for the power to sink in, and you may have to do it for a while before you start to really believe it. That’s fine. Just keep saying it until you start to let it become your truth.

If you make this affirmation one of your go-to tools it will serve as a reminder that you’re  human and are fully within your right make mistakes. You’re allowed to stumble, and fall, and get knocked down. That’s usually where the most growth comes from anyway!

What’s important is that when you’re down, don’t beat yourself up. You have to be kind to yourself at all times, especially when you feel like you can’t or don’t deserve it. You have to love yourself through every experience, past, present, and future. You must be willing to let go the negative narrative, because at the end of the day you go to sleep with yourself, thoughts included. If you go to bed and the ghosts from the past are still haunting you, it’s time for an exorcism.

Remember that you’re doing the best you can at all times, and you’re in the process of learning. Let yourself off the hook for not being perfect. Start loving the past because it has gotten you to where you are now.

If this article resonates with you, or you think someone else will benefit from it, then please share. As always I love comments, questions, and emails. If there is anything I can do to help you get to better place emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, please let me know.

Wishing you a blessed and wonderful day!


Spencer James