It isn’t just what happens to you. It’s how you interpret it. The lessons you learn. The way you talk to yourself about what has happened and apply that experience to the future.
The stories we tell ourselves matter. About what has happened to us, about what is currently going on, about what tomorrow might bring.
The way we talk about it shapes our expectation. Shapes our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world.
And the shape of those beliefs in turn will influence the way we act in the future.
For some, it’s easy to have no regrets. To accept no blame. To see yourself as not making any mistakes, not now or ever. But while it may feel good in the moment to take this path, to rid yourself of the weight or guilt and shame, wrong and blame, you also deprive yourself of the lessons you would learn. The lessons you should learn.
And over time, the desperate shuffle to explain away anything unpleasant, anything self-challenging, with the right story that you tell to yourself — and often to others — can cause more work and more strain. Especially when you’re making the same mistakes over and over again and refusing to apologize. Refusing to learn.
For others, it’s easy to go too far the other way. To take on blame not only for what you’ve done but for what others have done, even when it isn’t appropriate to. And it can be easy to beat yourself up for minor mistakes — or even non-mistakes — for years after the fact. To come to harsh conclusions about yourself, others, and the world because the stories that you tell yourself aren’t quite right either.
You can err in either direction.
Like most things in life, there’s a balance here. The stories we tell ourselves matter. They matter almost as much as what we do. Sometimes they matter even more.