I have been beating myself up recently and struggling with mixed emotions of shame, guilt fear and regret over a recent mistake I have made. My mind was having a field day with racing negative emotions and thoughts leading to feelings of low mood and this was affecting how I interacted with others and with my work.
I was trying to put a brave face on things whilst inside I was awash with a nervous energy. The voice in my mind was spinning the same record telling me I was very naïve and silly and should have known better, been more aware, more stronger. It’s easy to take care of ourselves on the good days and be kind to ourselves, however when something happens in our life that upsets us, it can prove to be very difficult to turn things around.
We forget that we are human, prone to making mistakes now and again and the strong resilient person we are today is a result from learning and growing from all the mistakes we have made.
In previous times, I would have dwelled on this for weeks, perhaps even months, falling into a negative cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors. However, these days by training my mind to focus on the positive, I catch myself much quicker.
I began to step outside these thoughts through the understanding that we are not our thoughts as they only derive from a negative energy in a blind effort to try to protect us. Upon this realisation, I knew I had to release these thoughts, as they were not serving who I was as a person. I reached out and had a chat with a trusted family member and alongside this in journaling; I soon began to rationalise what was happening.
In the midst of all the negative chatter that was going on, I was now able to reframe the thoughts and replace them by finding the positives in the situation. I reminded myself that I did not set out with the intention of making a mistake, I remained true to myself and genuine and am a good person who lives her life authentically with an open heart and mind.
As soon as I started being kinder to myself, I immediately started to notice the shift in how I was feeling both mentally and physically. I had a headache that very quickly began to ease, my shoulders and neck became less tense and was motivated to start doing positive activities like spending time having fun with my son, going for a run and taking a trip to the beach for a gorgeous walk and swim.
In addition to this, once I lifted my head and started to look around me instead of looking downwards (We tend to do this if we are having negative thoughts), I started to notice all the love and beauty around me. I realised that I have a loving son, family and beautiful friends who love me unconditionally. I met some gorgeous lovely people who I spoke to whilst walking and swimming at the beach and I started to see the beauty in nature and all the things that surround me – the spectacular scenery of the water and the nearby hills and mountains.
So if you are struggling with the shame, guilt or perhaps anger that you are experiencing because of a recent mistake, just draw a line under this now and catch the negative chatter in your mind. The past is the past no matter how recent; we are unable to change that. The future we worry about may never arrive and is out of our control. What we can change lies within the present moment and in how we move forwards and learn from this.
We own the mistake and use it as a signpost to guide us in the right direction. We forgive ourselves first and foremost, remember who we are, how far we have come, and how much love that surrounds us on a daily basis from our family, friends, loved ones, and nature by stepping or looking outdoors.
We are surrounded constantly by the tiny miracles that happen in nature each day. From the beauty we see in nature when we are out a walk, or perhaps the smile we receive from a stranger as we go about our daily routine. All such a comfort and a reminder of how precious our lives are.
Opportunities for growth are all around us once we lift our head from the shame we experience and start to look around us knowing that making mistakes is a part of life. It’s how we connect as human beings and how we develop love compassion and empathy for others in knowing sharing our hurt and using our strength from it to comfort others who may have experienced something similar.
It is these opportunities that give us hope, and only by lifting our head and focusing on the present moment and the beauty around us can we start experiencing the true authentic happiness that lies within us just waiting for us to notice it.
So if you are struggling with the shame and guilt I hope this gives you comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that you don't have to dwell on this and live within these negative thoughts, there is a way through.
Serotonin Solutions: A Short exercise to try:
So take five minutes to yourself now begin by taking a few deep breaths with the exhale longer than the inhale (7-10 long breaths), and as the mind begins to settle start listening to what it is telling you write this down if it helps.
Are the thoughts positive or negative? If negative, how can you replace this with a positive? An easy way to do this is to think of what you would say to a good friend if they came to you with this same problem? how would you comfort them? Now start telling yourself this.
Notice how your mind and body feel as you begin replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones. In doing this, you are opening the door to the positive opportunities that may be passing you by whilst stuck a negative cycle of guilt and shame. Reframing our thoughts is the first step we can take towards bringing in the positive change we hope to make for ourselves.