Thoughts on surviving and overcoming bad decisions.
You’re an idiot. It’s true. At some point in your life, you’re going to do something really stupid. How’s that for motivational speaking? Honestly, I’m not attempting to make you feel bad about yourself, I just want you to give yourself a break and realize that screwing up in life is just as big of a part of it as doing things the right way. Sometimes, the only way we learn is by doing things the wrong way. It’s all a part of the human experience. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Our icemaker is broken. So in the meantime, we’ve bought a bunch of ice cube trays. One day I asked my teenage son to break up the ice trays and dump it in the ice bin. I was buzzing around the kitchen when I noticed that he was having a terrible time trying to get the ice out of the trays. He’s a ridiculously smart kid, but he was banging the plastic trays with fury upside down with nary a piece of ice budging. Then he was trying to coax each piece of ice out individually with his fingernails. Still, they didn’t budge. I looked at him like this…
To which he replies, “The ice won’t come out!”
Then it hit me. I don’t think he’s ever had to work an ice tray in his entire life. The ice just appears in the door of the refrigerator like magic! He didn’t have to live through my difficult youth when ice trays were made of metal and if you weren’t careful your fingers ended up stuck to tray only to have your fingerprints removed when you tried to peel your hands away. I thought, you know, he’s never had to know this. I said you “twist it”, and I showed him and the light bulb popped up over his head. It’s how you learn, just trial and error. And if you’re willing to listen, someone will save you the trial and error trouble and give you some solid advice.
However, sometimes in life, we just make bad choices. Really bad ones and they often come with serious consequences. I made a choice in life at one point that literally almost led to my complete demise. The course correction was a painful one because I was so far down the rabbit hole. One of the worst parts of my experience was how long it took me to change my direction and how many people my bad choices affected.
Currently, there are people I know personally who caught up in some bad choices. You want to stand up and yell, NOOOOO, DON’T DO IT! But it comes back to the ice trays. Sometimes you think you know and you do it your way even though someone is trying to tell you “your way sucks” but you have to learn it on your own. Then Karma, that bitch, will likely rear her head and everyone seems to be able to see the train coming but you.
When I think about what bad Karma would look like in human form, I picture the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I can imagine she’s running around screaming “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS”, at any given moment as she carefully lies in wait for us humans to do something stupid. Which we do, and often.
So how do you survive and thrive after a seriously bad decision?
The first step sounds a whole lot easier than it is. One thing I learned is that it’s typically not a one-time deal. The enemy likes to bring it up on the daily and remind you what a terrible person you are. You’re not. And yes, there are truly terrible people out there who do unforgivable things. So, I’m not talking about the Hitler’s of the world. But I’m talking about you, and I’m guessing you’re not Hitler. So, let it go. You messed up. Ok. Did you make amends? Did you take responsibility for your choice? Did you course correct to the best of your ability? Because sometimes it could take years to get back on track and that’s when you patiently stay the right course and gently move in the right direction. And you know deep down what that right direction is.
You’ll feel a calm in your soul when you point the right way. It may not be easy. As a matter of fact, it may be damned hard. But that peace in your gut will tell you it’s the right way. Then, let go and love yourself anyway. Don’t keep reminding yourself of your missteps, you’ve done a lot of right things too. Make the choice to forgive yourself and see the beautiful parts of you and the efforts you are making to fix anything that needs some light shined on it.
Don’t double down.
This is the thing I hate to see people do more than anything because I did it. It takes courage to admit you’re wrong and a lot of us like to live in denial concerning our bad choices. Don’t do that. It’s okay to admit you’re wrong. This doesn’t mean you are less of a person. It comes from a place of pure strength and courage to look at our misgivings and then to take action to change those ugly things about ourselves. The magical part of taking responsibility for our choices and our lives is this new found confidence and freedom. Beautiful, sweet, freedom. Free from your flaws.
It was a brutal process for me and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. I can’t even imagine my former self. I think it was my dragonfly larvae stage. Now, I just fly.
No one can help you but you.
God brought me a bevy of people who showed up to help me in the lost years. It helped, don’t get me wrong. Even when they likely felt their advice wasn’t sinking in, it was. But when it came down to saving myself, I was the only one who could do it.
I think it’s like an intervention. Lots of people and support can show up but when it comes down to it the only person that can make the choice to save you is you. YOU have to make the choice. YOU have to put in the hard work. YOU have to stay strong. YOU have to get on the right course. YOU have to make amends. YOU have to forgive yourself. And YOU can do it.
Some bad choices are fleeting and the consequences immediate. Like that time you went flying past a cop doing Mach 2. Some bad choices can last a lifetime and the painful lessons will repeat themselves until you pay attention to them and remedy the situation. Sadly, some people never do.
But either way, know this. Your mistakes are not the defining summation of you. You’re only being prepared to become the amazing bad-ass you were meant to be. You’re going to be tested and you’re going to do a lot of stupid shit in your lifetime. Just let it go, move on and hope the Karma Queen lets you keep your head.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll,