Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

By Quinn Nystrom, MS

How many would like to go back in time and rewrite (or “re-right”) some of your wrongs? Erase the mistakes of the past that either created a mess, mortified us with embarrassment, or left us emotionally battered and bruised.

How many would like to write a letter to your younger self that acted as a guide for avoiding the upcoming potholes and slippery slopes of life?

Who would like to create a “how-to” guide of sorts to help our future selves avoid experiencing the pain and inconvenience of the bumps-in-the-road, wrong turns and epic fail that are yet to come. I’m sure all of us have had a moment when hindsight was 20/20 and we really…really wished we would have handled things better.

Or said, “no.”

Or took the right turn instead of the left.

Or took the sage advice instead of ignoring it.

The reality is that there is no magic eraser that will wipe out our past errors any more than there is a crystal ball that will predict our future path to success. As uncomfortable as mistakes, blunders, and “oh craps” are, they are vital in forming and shaping who we are as human beings.   Mistakes form us…mold us…into the person we are right now. Good or bad, mistakes are some of the best teachers we could ask for in life.

“There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery. From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher” Robin Sharma

Many people save the act of reflecting on their life journey for the final days of December before the calendar flips to a shiny, new year.  That is a wonderful practice for appreciating our blessings and the remembering happy things we’ve achieved over the past 12 months. But glossing over the messy parts is also avoiding some of the best chances we have for growth. Yes, I know the tough stuff is hard to recount, but under that layer of *yuck* are lessons to be learned; lessons that will armor us with strength and knowledge for the next 12 months.

That being said, I encourage everyone to take the time to pause and appreciate not just the smooth road we traveled, but all the times we needed to “hack through the jungle” too. Think you failed at a project, new business venture or hobby? Think again…at least you tried.

And learned. And grew.

Just know that this exercise is NOT about the act or revisiting pain and embarrassment; it’s about acknowledging the teachable moments that made us fighters, warriors, and victors. Own it. Embrace it. Misdirection or bad choices will inevitably happen as we navigate this thing called life, but if we pause, gather our wits, learn from our past mistakes (instead of beating ourselves up over them) we will be able to keep moving forward in life as opposed to be “stuck in the muck” of shame and pain.

So as we welcome 2020 with open arms, I invite everyone reading this to acknowledge their mistakes teachers, wipe the slate clean, and charge into this New Year armed with the satisfaction of know that, thus far, their success rate for overcoming past struggles is 100%.

You got this.