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If you’ve made mistakes and have scars to prove it – good for you!

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In last week’s post, I encouraged you to keep on keeping on a while longer because too many people quit right before success is achieved. And my hope for you is that you will be strong enough to push yourself a bit more to find what is most likely waiting for you on the other side. I know that many people want assurances that what they have been working on will be rewarded, and I hope for your sake it happens, so don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.

Now, of course, there may come a time in your personal life when you need to walk away because there is nothing left to do to correct the situation or perhaps those involved choose not to forgive, and you can’t fix that. In some cases, when you have exhausted all options (asked forgiveness, repaid the debt, made right the situation to the best of your ability), you need to accept that the door is shut. I believe most people know when the final option shows itself. Pay attention to what is happening around you, and then choose your course of action for success.

This week I wanted to stay with my theme of your success and remind you once again that if you made mistakes in the past and have the scars to show for it, it does not mean that is who you are today. With that being said, take note if your actions stay the same after your mistakes are observed. No amount of words in the form of your apology will make a difference if you don’t change, because “Your mistakes don’t define your character – it’s what you do after you have made the mistakes that makes all the difference.” (Dave Willis)

So I want to continue that theme with another twist, and that is if you’ve made mistakes and have the scars to prove it and you have learned from them… good for you! It means you’ve tried. Most people make one or two mistakes, and then they learn the hard way and never make the same mistake again (with the exception of love –we’re all very hopeful in that area). But besides love, most people see a mistake for what it is and learn from it.

At least I hope you learned your lesson and aren’t such a blockheaded to keep doing it over and over.

Dr. Steve Maraboli says, “…you would not be here today if yesterday were your defining moment. Live this day and move towards your dreams.” And taking that idea, let’s talk about you growing up–moving past and creating a future even with the pieces of your broken, scarred past.

It’s a given that good people make bad decisions, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad for the rest of their life. Yes, there are always a few in the bunch who are rotten to the core; if that’s the case, don’t waste your time. Toss them to the curb, but don’t discount those who made mistakes long ago and changed for the better. Time tells the truth.

You have choices. If someone has treated you poorly, you can forgive and start over, or you can forgive and stay away. You get to make a choice, but let me just say from experience, don’t lose a second chance for laughter, love or a lifetime friend if you have it within you power to forgive and forget. You’re an adult now; you can choose wisely those you want in your life.

When you were a kid, you probably took more verbal abuse or personal slights or outright meanness than you should have, but you were a kid–you didn’t know any better. That is in your past, and I hope you have learned by now that you must always defend yourself from crazy people that come into your life. That being said, let me add this caveat: you will live in a lonely world if you don’t realize that some people from your past just needed to grow up–no matter what their age. Maybe you don’t need to be so hard on everyone.

Remember, use your head and not just your heart when making the decision to re-engage friendships, but if you do that, you have to be mature enough not to hold their past against them. Remember, a lot of people with a past are trying to improve their future, so accept them for who they are today, even if you have to go slowly at first.

Now what I find interesting is that many people are very hard on others who have made mistakes in their past, yet they cover up their own mistakes with a broad-brush stroke. Let’s be honest, if it weren’t for the mistakes you’ve made, you would not be where you are today. And that is the heart of this message.

I believe you are more than the mistakes you’ve made and the scars you carry. I saw a quote that really spoke to me, and it is this, everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud. I don’t know who said it, but it is the truth, and since it is the truth, I want to remind you to stop allowing your past to harm your future. Your past cannot be altered, and your future does not deserve the punishment. Did you read that line? Your past cannot be altered, and your future does not deserve the punishment.

I have written many times about moving past your past, and it is worth reminding you that what is done is done, and you can use it as stepping stone to greater things or as a stumbling block to throw you off track.

You choose your steps.

There is only one reason you should consider your past, and that is, to simply use it as a reminder when you look at your scars to see that you survived. And now what you do with the rest of your life is your opportunity to thrive.

For most of us our scars are healed. Yes, the broken tissue leaves a lifetime mark, but once healed, all you see is the memory and move on.

I have two new knees, and I have two very long scars in the middle of my knees to remind me of the miracle of modern medicine that has allowed these worn out basketball knees to have a new, albeit slower and more gentle, gait. It’s annoying at the airport to have to wait for security to put me in the cylinder scan, but ever minute I wait to get through security and onto my plane, I know I have another year of pain-free movement. Yes, I have scars that will always be visible on the outside, but I have freedom, speed and movement that changed my life for the better.

Mistakes in our lives are the broken pieces that remake us into who we are today. Sometimes the broken pieces fit close to perfect to recreate the life before it was broken, and sometimes, due to the severity of the break, there are not enough good pieces left to recreate what once was. But no matter what is left over after any break, if you will be bold enough, strong enough or courageous enough to pick up what is left and gently put back into place what was once whole, you will see that good can come from what is newly created.

You are more than your mistakes of your past. In fact, many times it is our mistakes that have provided a new path for our future–one we never thought of or expected to be walking. And although the new journey is different from the path we thought we’d make in life, it will still lead to a suitable ending of a life well lived.

You’ve made mistakes and have the scars to prove it. Good for you! So now that you have learned some important life lessons, don’t forget them. Use them to build the next chapter of your life, use them to stand on the solid ground of experience to help others find their way, but most of all, use them to remind yourself that you showed up for life, learned your lessons and are still standing. Never be ashamed of the mistakes and scars of your life. Scars don’t form on the dying. A scar means you survived! And mistakes, we all make them, but the wise ones among us don’t dwell on them, we use them as a foundation to keep moving forward.

So remember, you are more than your mistakes, and you are more than your scars. You are amazing! Now, go live like that.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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