Great Mistakes

by on February 27, 2017 · 0 comments

in Thoughts on Philosophy

Shifting Perspectives

Growth is not always pain free. Sometimes growth stings twice for each lesson learned. As life unfolds, and experiences make you wise,  you reach a point of having a completely new perspective on your past. The unfortunate aspect of this two-part dynamic is the sobering realization that when you make a decision, you are doing so based on your level of knowledge at that given moment. So what may be a genuinely good action in that moment, may appear to be a foolish mistake later in life. In the practice of yoga, we are encouraged to meet our practice where we are in our bodies and minds each time we step on the mat instead of wishing it to be otherwise. By witnessing aspects of our lives as they are (including our own past choices), we cultivate the state of mind to see things in truth and reality and move forward.

Not all mistakes are bad

Acting out of genuine motivation and being driven by a desire is the basis of experiential knowledge, even when it leads to failure. The key is seeing that failure is not inherently bad. The process of desire leading to action and action leading to failure is a beneficial path to learning what does and what does not support the achievement of your desire.

I had a sobering moment when recalling a past decision. In this moment, I realized that I allowed someone to talk me out of an excellent business plan. I had never been so sure of anything in my life. I could see the plan unfold from beginning to end. I could visualize it’s potential pitfalls, and event those setbacks had the opportunity to lead to more personal and social enrichment. In other words, there was no place to go from that moment but upwards. My mistake, was sharing this plan with a friend, instead of following through and embracing the white, hot passionate motivating desire I had to make this dream a reality. My vision was defeated with one text message. When I look back on this day, years later, equipped with the knowledge that I have now, I feel regret. In understanding the nature of experience, I know I should not feel defeat, but as I look back on this event, I see a mistake that was made. It has taken a few hard lessons along the way for this to become a truth. The challenge lies in seeing my past mistakes, such as this one, as education. Viewing the experiences of life as proper and meaningful learning.

In yoga, we often state, you can learn from even the worst of teachers. You can learn how NOT to practice and how NOT to teach.

See the past appropriately

If one views their past mistakes in full awareness and in the spirit of self-forgiveness, feeling regret is not necessary. A person’s inner dialogue is better poised to serve when a positive language is embraced. By attributing past ill-informed decisions in a more positive light, it becomes easier to use them as tools for moving forward. There is nothing more burdensome than carrying something un-true. If you possesses the perspective that your past failures are somehow bad, or negatively indicative of your character, you bear a great falsehood that is freed just by changing the language of your self-talk. If you want to see your greatest friend and your worst enemy, you only need to see your reflection. Be a great friend, and change your words that condemn into phrases of encouragement.

No Regrets

Our most fundamental mistakes begin at a very young age. We learn touching hot surfaces bring pain. We learn that not all friendly looking dogs are friendly. Untied shoe laces eventually lead to tripping over one’s own feet. However, if you analyze your childhood, you likely have no regrets about the most common mistakes you made as they are made by all children. Sit with this idea for a while and compare and contrast your mistakes made more recent in life. How does the mistakes by the “child you” differ to the mistakes made by the “adult you”? When I approach these two perspectives they are both choices made on knowledge possessed at that moment, yet one carries the undertones of innocence, while the other has a feeling of regret or ignorance. The two overall feelings of these distinct phases of learning, (childhood vs. adulthood) are governed only by the words used internally to describe the memory. If you simply do not know you are making the wrong choice, it is a mistake, and there really is no shame in that. However, if the circumstances of your choice bear undesirable consequences, yet you continue to make the wrong choice repeatedly, there’s more beneath the surface of your choosing that must be personally dealt with. Sit with the intention of forgiveness for carrying regret as your past choices are your experiential education.


It feels good to be right and admitting that one has made a mistake is rarely a pleasure. However, it is responsible to be upfront with yourself or others in this regard. If a wrong choice is to be corrected, admitting a wrong choice was made and owning the mistake is the first step towards resolution.  With humility and acceptance, our past choices become our wisest teachings.

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