Personal Growth

We all make mistakes in life. Believe it or not, every mistake is actually an amazing beautiful opportunity to learn, grow, and display strength.

Bad, toxic situations that result from mistakes hurt, especially when other people are involved...and other people usually are involved.

The first step towards growth after making a mistake is dealing with the direct consequences of the mistake. The bigger the mistake, the deeper the pain and feeling of loss. Embrace the pain. I know it sucks. Hiding it, avoiding it, or masking pain with medication or alcohol won't make it go away. Just be strong and embrace it. Let yourself mourn the loss. It might take a while, but it will eventually hurt less and less. Going through this process is part of being strong and growing.

I won't sugarcoat it, by the time I realized most of the mistakes I've made, people and opportunities were gone forever. There is really nothing that can be done in most of these situations to fix the outward situation. Growth is not a tool to manipulate others or to get what you want. That being said, growth will fix every single mistake you have ever made, but not in the way that you think. That is to say that growth doesn't mean your mistake(s) go away. To the contrary, the consequences of a mistake will never go away.

The point of growth is to see a mistake for what it is, a poor decision or series of decisions, and figure out how to avoid making the same mistake again in the future. It is really very simple, yet far easier said than done.

I am not really sure if doing something wrong for the first time should always be called a "mistake." Sometimes we make poor decisions because we lack the information to make the right decision. In essence, if complete information had been available, we would have made the right decision. Sometimes we are responsible for the lack of information, sometimes the lack of information is completely out of our control. Either way this kind of "mistake" is so much easier to grow from, because the mistake gives us the information we need to make the right decision in the future. What better word for this process other than growth!

We are wired to react in the same way every time that we are presented with a series of stimuli. Breaking the pattern is incredibly hard. It is easy to do something that you already know how to do. In the same way it is easy to make the same mistake over and over. We already know how to make the mistake. It takes literally no work to act in the same way over and over, with the same consequences. Learning to act differently is really hard work and takes strength. Growth is really freaking hard because often we have to learn to act in a different way. We have to learn to break an established pattern of behavior which takes strength.

This kind of growth is incredibly hard and often painful, but also can be one of the most most rewarding and self-fulfilling things that a human being can ever achieve.

We can choose to react to a mistake with bitterness and a refusal to change, in which case the exact same thing will eventually (often sooner than not) happen again. Or we can choose to grow, to break the pattern of a reaction to a given situation. Growth begins when we acknowledge a poor decision, understand why it was a poor choice, and make the decision to learn how to respond differently when presented with a similar set of circumstances.

I am a huge advocate of strength. It plays an enormous role in growth. Strength is a prerequisite to acknowledging a poor decision, facing it, and to choosing to begin the process of growth. Strength is especially necessary when growth involves breaking a pattern of poor decisions.

Strength is "the capacity to withstand great force or pressure." The pressure and force within us to make the same mistake we have always made is a force that I cannot put into words, but that we have all felt. Our mind rationalizes that if we just do or say what we always have, that this time it will work out differently. It takes strength exceeding the pressure to keep making the same choice(s) we have always made to grow. Most of us will fail, and that is actually okay, because a lot of what strength is first realizing that we need to change after a mistake. Facing that storm makes us stronger even when it knocks us back down. The pressure to keep making the same mistake will never change, but we have the potential to become so much stronger than that pressure.

Getting back up to face the inevitable pain of loss and regret from a mistake is the first step of growth. Strength is bending and cracking but not breaking in face of pressure. I really believe that growth is burning off a layer of ourselves to get to our core. Burning off a layer of yourself is going to hurt. Choosing to go through this process takes strength. Emerging from the other side as a truly changed person without running away in the middle of the process by reverting to old mistakes takes even more strength. So yes, growth takes strength. You are probably stronger than you think. Strength isn't defined by how much force and pressure we can handle. Strength is choosing to face the storm, and getting back up a little bit stronger every time that you get knocked down. There will come a point when your strength overcomes the force and pressure to act in the same way that we always have.

So how do we train ourselves to respond correctly when presented with a similar set of circumstances? In most situations deep down in the depths our heart I think that most of know what we need to, we just cringe and don't want to do it. The process of making a right choice that we don't want to make is growth. Remember what I said above about being wired to react in the same way over and over again? The more we make the right choice, the easier it becomes. This process is hard, it hurts, and it is growth.

If you really don't know how to act, spend time reflecting on the mistake, and rely on others to help if you need to. Ask yourself, is growth really a question of not knowing what to do, or not wanting to do what you know you need to do?

A mistake is a gift that literally shows us the bad result of what happens when we react in a way that is not good for us or others. If a bad result occurs, especially over and over again, it is the universe trying so hard to help us to grow into who we are supposed to be.

Every opportunity that comes and is lost as a result of a mistake can and should be mourned. But, think about it, how in the world did this opportunity come along? Do you really think this will be the last opportunity that you will ever have? There will always be another opportunity.

You can look at lost opportunity from a negative point of view. Or you can look at a mistake as helping you grow into the person you need to be, the person you really are, in order to make the right choice the next time a similar opportunity comes along. The next opportunity never would have come along, but for a particular mistake. Maybe, just maybe, the universe was giving you the opportunity to make the wrong decision in order to help you to grow into the beautiful amazing person who makes the right decision next time around.

The universe is an interesting creature. If you find yourself in the same bad situation more than once it is very easy to just scream at the top of your lungs "why the ******* hell is this happening to me!!?" The universe, fate, karma, God, whatever you want to call it, does not want to hurt you. If you find yourself in a series of similar bad situations over and over it is the universe trying to help you. Karma just want you to grow into who you really are.

The process of growth is a beautiful amazing journey. Embrace the pain and hurt of a lost opportunity or person in your life due to your own poor decision(s). Feel the emotion of loss and regret because there is probably nothing stronger that you will ever feel. Be strong and let the pain and hurt burn off a layer of you. Through growth you find a beautiful part of yourself that was always there, but that you may never knew you had. Going through the process of growth takes every piece of strength that you have, and will make you even stronger.

It is never too late to choose strength and begin the process of growth ;)

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