Don’t Allow Mistakes To Govern Your Future
We’re all human and not a single one of us is perfect. Every person on this planet has made mistakes in the past and will make more in the future. So why do we allow those passing events to rule and dictate our lives?
Yes the actions we take have consequences. And yes some of those consequences can create life long impacts. But does that mean we need to hold ourselves up to a standard of perfection and pay for the mistake for the rest of our lives?
Whether we hold guilt, embarrassment, shame, fear or dread; people are often way to hard on themselves when it comes to judging our own mistakes. It makes it hard to let go of the past events and gives them much more power over us than they deserve. We carry that baggage around with us and allow it to dictate our choices, or hold us back from new opportunities when they arise. However, this is the exact opposite of what we should do.
Mistakes are opportunities to learn and expand our understanding, both of ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes it takes a stupid mistake to teach us something or to recognize an issue we need to deal with. Doing so allows us to free the restraints of fear or even guilt, and walk our path with courage and a belief in ourselves.
Don’t close your eyes and try to ignore your mistakes, or try to pretend they never happened only to replay their words or actions over and over in your head. This only digs the anchor deeper into the soul and opens the doorway to sorrow and darkness.
If you’ve visited my blog in the past, you may know that I and my family are huge Nascar fans. Some of the events and issues that come up in our favorite sport offer great examples for spiritual reflection. And I have a great one for this topic!
A little behind the scene information. After each Nascar race officials randomly pull a select number of drivers and/or crew members to their corporate hauler and administer a drug test. The sample is divided into an “A” and “B” test. If the “A” sample fails, an individual can request to have the “B” sample tested. And they can ask for that sample to be tested by their own designated and qualified tester.
In June 2012 after the race at Kentucky Speedway they happened to draw the name of an up and comer, A.J. Allmendinger. On Saturday July 7, 2012 Nascar announced the temporary suspension of A.J., driver of the #22 Dodge for Penske Racing. ‘Dinger as he’s known, failed the Kentucky drug test (When Sports Idols Fall From Grace). On Tuesday July 24th, A.J.’s “B” Sample Tests Positive and Nascar announced the driver is now Indefinitely Suspended. A very promising career was now in danger of being destroyed.
As the weeks moved on ‘Dinger elected to enter Nascar’s “Road to Recovery” program. The program is administered by a Nascar Drug Policy Program Manager. He completed the program and was reinstated and allowed to race once again. But if you know anything about racing, no matter what the forum, you know that’s not always the only hurdle to returning to your dream. And this was and still is ‘Dinger’s dream. It’s what he’s trained for his entire young life and what he wants to do for the future.
After the initial drug test, ‘Dinger sat down with ESPNs Marty Smith and tried to explain what happened (Do You Believe In Allmendinger?). Of course there are people who believed his story, and many who are still skeptical to this day. He claimed that he went out with a friend during the Kentucky race weekend and he was extremely tired. A friend of his friend offered him a “vitamin” saying it was like a boost of energy and he’d be fine. Taking the “friends” word for it, ‘Dinger took the pill. And there is the simple mistake that could easily ruin someone’s life forever. The pill as it turned out, according to ‘Dinger, was Adderall a medication for those with Attention Deficit Disorder. Something ‘Dinger doesn’t suffer from.
That one mistake, that little pill was enough to potentially ruin his life. It could have killed him, could have caused some medical condition that damaged his body or brain in some way. Not knowing exactly what it was, it could have done a number of terrible things. Thankfully it didn’t. But the choice to take it was a mistake that itself had huge consequences if he allowed it to control his life.
Thanks to having someone believe in him, ‘Dinger did find a way to get back into a car. Car owner Roger Penske put him in an Indy car and he raced in the Indianapolis 500. He even lead a number of laps and did quite well considering it was his first open wheel race at this level of racing. But he still wasn’t back in a stock car.
This past weekend Nascar went to Sonoma California for both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup events. For those of you who don’t know anything about racing, the Sprint Cup series is the elite league of Nascar racing, and Nationwide is it’s Jr. league. Once again Roger Penske taps his driver A.J. Allmendinger to drive one of his Nationwide cars on this challenging road course. And for the 1st time in his professional career, ‘Dinger wins! But as he said in interviews after the race “There were times I didn’t even want to live.”
He fully admits that this past year has been challenging. Testing positive was devastating. Knowing it was his own fault from a stupid mistake made it even worse. Facing the issues that brought the situation on in the first place was difficult, but he accepted the work and put in the effort to learn and adjust to what the lessons were trying to teach him. He developed his own motto to never give up and it carried him through the struggles he endured.
None of us have the right to judge the challenges that others face. What we may think is inconsequential, could be the world or life to someone else. Ending a dream you’ve held onto for a lifetime, only to see it potentially slip away is a big deal. And I’d say it would be a big deal to anyone.
It’s not the mistakes we make that matter. It’s how we handle the consequences they bring to our door. And of course some of those consequences are more dire and harder than others.
If you’re a kid who made the wrong choices and suddenly have a pregnancy to deal with, you have choices to deal with the consequences of that mistake. If your someone who made the bad choice to drink and drive and killed someone, it has more dire and serious consequences. But you still have choices to turn those mistakes into positive opportunities for learning and changing your actions and yourself for the better.
Don’t let the past mistakes end your life or someone elses in vain and meaningless energy. Go within, be honest with yourself, find the courage to look for the lessons and learn from them. Innovate, adapt and overcome in a positive way. Share your lesson with others so they might avoid the same tragedies and hardships you suffered through.
Don’t let your mistakes, big, small or in between ruin your life and hold you back. Give your mistakes meaning and you ensure they will never replay again in your life. Let them rule your future and you suffer the trauma of repeating them.
Everyone not only deserves a second change, but everyone can create a second chance by growing, learning and changing for the better. It’s the change that will succeed. Not anchoring your sorrow, failures, fears or emotions in the past.
© 2013 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.