screwing up

Move Forward

It happened, get over it.

That’s the harshest version of a mantra I hear myself saying pretty often.

You can’t change the past, so don’t get upset. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Move forward. Deal with it.

It’s definitely important not to let the past rule your decision making, but you can’t ignore it. If you spilled that damn milk three days in a row in the exact same way – you probably need to learn how to stop spilling milk every time you pick up your glass. 

So how do you learn from the past without being chained to it? First, recognize your actions. Own them. If you messed up, acknowledge you messed up. Let that pit in your stomach roil for a few minutes and feel the weight of that screw up so that you won’t do it again. Then, as long as whatever you did wasn't that bad, let the feeling go. It’s only going to weigh you down and make you feel like success is impossible. Easier said than done, but totally do-able. If you have trouble, I recommend finding a way to disrupt the feedback loop of your guilt and anxiety. Maybe you think through the process and aftermath of the mistake once or twice and then interrupt the thought with a physical activity or chore. Maybe you let the guilt lie until it’s not so fresh and then attack it with some reflection or meditation. Whatever works for you is the best way to go.

What next? Really examine your actions. Figure out that when you pick up the glass of milk, you always seem to lift it too high to hold or you keep putting it on a ledge without making sure it’s stable. Try to remember not to put the glass there anymore and build a positive habit of putting the glass firmly on the table. If it’s not that easy a fix, don’t worry about it. Worrying about it only makes it worse. 

Next? Move on. Let yourself try again. Maybe you’ll screw up. Maybe you won’t. But either way you’ve taken time to self-reflect and forgive yourself for spilling a glass of milk. You’ll be happier person and eventually you’ll either stop spilling milk or you’ll stop worrying about spilling it.