Take mistakes as a learning experience. Yes, learn. If you can forget and let it go, fine; but learn from it in your forgetting process. The learning will prevent you from doing it again, and you will say to yourself, “I have learned my lesson. This I will never do again.”
I am going to tell you a story that I seldom tell people but wish to share with you because it has helped me to let go of my own burdens.
While doing business as a salesperson in Texas, I was sent to visit some clients in New York City. I was raised in the West, and I was just a country boy, which I still am, by the way. As we talked, I found that I really got along well with them. They had a strong ethnic bond between the two of them. They shared a particular religion that they believed in fervently and that bonded them and their families together. You could see it in how they conducted their lives and their business activities. They lived their religion well. As I was talking, a phrase slipped out of my mouth. It was one of those phrases that could be very offensive to someone else. The reason I am not repeating it right now is I promised I would never repeat it again. The instant I said it I knew I had offended them. Upon realizing what I had done, I wanted dig a hole, crawl inside, and hide. I instinctively began to punish myself as I viewed the hurt in their eyes. We had built this wonderful relationship, and I had melted it down in one breath-one single phrase.
I punished myself over and over. I went through the scenario in my head, and just couldn’t seem to let it go. It festered inside me to the point where I could not concentrate or focus on anything else. Finally I mustered the courage to go to them and ask them for forgiveness. We were able to open up and talk about it together.
However, I still held it inside of me, asking myself how I could let words like that exit my mouth. “You believe in words. It is part of your profession. You understand words. You have had experiences, and you appreciate other cultures. That has been one of your hallmarks in life. Now you just obliterated the relationship.”
I was still down, because I had shown myself to be insensitive.
Eventually I had to tell myself that the natural consequence of my actions was that they were offended and I had offended myself. I knew this mistake would heal; I just had to let it go.
The experience became a powerful lesson to me-always think before you speak!
Realize that while you make mistakes, you have also done much good your life.