Recently, in the interest of avoiding causing someone close to me hurt, I made a choice.
It’s not important what that choice was, but what is important is the aftermath. I thought I made the right choice to protect this person from potential pain. However, I was wrong. And I made the wrong choice.
Yes, I fucked up. Plain, and simple, I got it wrong. In the interest of avoiding causing hurt, I caused hurt. The choice I made in this situation was the wrong choice.
But you know what? It happens. That’s life. Sometimes you make the wrong choice.
For a long time, to avoid making the wrong choice — I frequently did not choose at all.
The result? I spent a lot of my life at a crossroads spinning around in circles — but not going anywhere.
The overall lesson I have gained from this experience is that the wrong choice is sometimes better than no choice at all.
Not making a choice is still a choice. But it doesn’t take you anywhere.
When you make a wrong choice — and you will — forgiveness might become necessary. If another person is involved — like in my situation — they need to be willing to forgive me.
But I also need to be willing to forgive me. And that’s often much harder.
When you make a wrong choice, be it a tiny error or a colossal fuck-up, you will feel bad about it.
How you feel — your experience of feeling bad — will be unique to you. It may manifest as a sinking feeling in your chest, anger, sadness, disillusionment, and/or numerous other negative emotions. What they are and how they feel are variable from person to person.
But when you make a wrong choice — and you realize you did so — you will feel bad in some way.
When that happens, you need to forgive yourself. And that’s challenging.
In my experience, my harshest critic is me. I am the toughest, most demanding judge upon myself. Nobody can tear me apart nor tell me I suck quite like how I can tell myself.
I know I am not alone when it comes to this.
When you make a poor choice, and/or a wrong choice, you are going to feel bad about it. And it tends to be worse when it caused hurt and bad feelings in someone else. But if you carry it around and allow it to fester — like any physical wound you receive, it’ll become infected.
That infection will interfere with your life in a lot of ways. When you carry around the burden of guilt, anger, hurt, and other negative feelings from a wrong choice — you set yourself up for self-sabotage, indecision, and other less-than-helpful issues.
How do you forgive yourself?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. That’s for several reasons. Small errors, tiny mistakes resulting from wrong choices are generally easier to reconcile than colossal fuck-ups. But that may or may not impact how forgiving of yourself you can be.
Some people see every teeny tiny mistake as a sign of ineptitude, failure, stupidity, insufficiency, and how they are unworthy and undeserving of getting anything they desire. The size of the mistake makes no difference here — they’re convinced they’re a lost cause.
Whatever the situation, forgiving yourself requires — in my experience — a few general steps.
1. Acknowledge the wrong choice. Straight to the point, recognize that wrong choice, and don’t avoid seeing that you made it.
2. Be accountable. We live in a society that delights in placing blame. Don’t do that. You need to be accountable for the wrong choice you made. Even if it’s something that you shared with someone — you must be accountable for your part in it.
3. Apologize. If someone else is involved this is an obvious necessity. But then, you need to apologize to yourself. I’m sorry I made the wrong choice is the first step in opening the door to forgiveness.
4. Release the hurt. Whatever negative feelings come up because of your wrong choice, YES, you need to feel them. But you don’t need to define yourself by them. No good comes from holding onto negativity regarding wrong choices. Release it like a pressure cooker releasing steam.
5. Make a new choice. When you fall off a bicycle or a horse the best thing to do is get right back on. When you make a wrong choice, it’s tempting to not choose anew. But the best thing to do is to make a new choice.
Forgiveness for a wrong choice is a two-way street
Asking for forgiveness from someone you may have hurt or otherwise impacted via your wrong choice is important. But it’s equally important to ask forgiveness of yourself.
Face it — you are a human being. We are all perfectly imperfect. You will make mistakes, errors, poor choices, wrong choices, and you will probably fuck it all up really badly at some point.
Here’s the thing — all of these are learning experiences. Bad things and happenings teach you.
Multiple people have asked me — if I could go back and not have been hit by the car — would I? The answer is no.
Sure, the pain and recovery and the year of my life lost to that situation sucked. And it was due to a choice that may have been wrong. Perhaps I should have driven to the Post Office instead of walking there. However, it happened — and it helped shape me into who I am today.
I gained more from this terrible experience in my life than I lost. It made me stronger, wiser, and more introspective. I think it also contributed to my more Zen approach to life.
No, not right away. Some of the lessons that came from that period of my life took time to set in. But now, 21 years later, I am a better person for it. And I long ago forgave myself for all the choices that led to my accident.
It is more normal than you may realize to choose wrongly. But you have the power to forgive yourself — and make new and better choices. Because you learn from a wrong choice, and forgiveness for it makes it an even more potent learning experience.
Choosing is still better than not choosing
For a long time, I made no choices in my life. I didn’t choose a career path, nor to get serious about relationships, nor to settle into a home for a long, long time. I lamented, complained about, and wrote frequently about being at a crossroads.
Lots of choices available. Decide to make one. But I didn’t.
Why? Fear of suffering due to making the wrong choice. But I can assure you — the fear of the suffering tends to be much worse than the suffering itself.
With few exceptions, most choices are not set in stone. You can get a new job, relationship, place to live, and so on. Yes, it might be more difficult than you desire for it to be — but that’s doesn’t make it any less changeable. About the only thing written in stone and totally permanent is death.
Change is inevitable, and the only constant in the Universe. When you choose to work with this — wrong choice or right choice — you empower yourself. That, in turn, lets you live life as fully and completely as you can.
Given we have one go-around in these meat popsicles we call our bodies — isn’t that ultimately what you desire to have? A full, complete, interesting, worthwhile life experience?
You are worthy and deserving of that. So long as you do not intentionally seek to harm others — make choices and decisions for your life experience. Right or wrong — they are still better than making no choices.
Sometimes you make a wrong choice. But that choice can still lead to growth, experience, and ways to make the most out of life. Forgive yourself when you choose wrongly — learn what you can from it — and then make new choices. You are worthy and deserving of this.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.