“The awful daring of a moment’s surrender which an age of prudence can never retract. By this, and only this, we have existed.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Too many of us are haunted by our past mistakes, beating ourselves up with guilt and the consequence of subconscious self-sabotage. Too many of us have paid the price repeatedly for far too long; like paying over and over again for the candy you bought and ate years ago. There are three simple questions you can answer to overcome this, to cast this vile, debilitating burden off your back.

The Buddha said that holding on to unforgiveness is like holding a burning coal in your hand. These three questions can help you release this coal, forgive yourself, and move on:

Question #1:

In retrospect, if you knew at the time you made the mistake, what the consequences of that choice would be, would you have made it? If not, if you have grown past that, and would not make that mistake again today, you need to ask forgiveness of the person you harmed, if it is appropriate, and forgive yourself, and move on with your life.

Question #2:

If you have asked forgiveness, and the person whose forgiveness you requested refuses to forgive you, do you still blame yourself, and suffer guilt? You shouldn’t; now that person has assumed the weight of guilt because of their refusal to forgive you.

Question #3:

Have you done all you can to repair the damage caused by your mistake/bad choice? If you have, your new life has begun, and you need to accept that. If I paint a wall the wrong colour and have repainted it the right colour, I don’t need to repeatedly repaint it every day.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” And Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, wrote, “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” 

Let us set ourselves free, today, from the putrid prison of past mistakes. Let us cast the huge and heavy load of unforgiveness away and run free, fresh, and unencumbered into a bright future. As a Christian, the first thing I do is ask God for forgiveness, since that is what Christ died for. I am assured of the fact that when I ask sincerely and repent, I am forgiven. And the easiest way I have found to forgive others is to pray for them.

Robin Elliott