Give yourself grace

Your mistakes do not define you


Maya Palavali

The act of forgiving oneself is almost unheard of. The Sidekick staff writer Maya Palavali talks about the importance of taking the time to self reflect and forgive past mistakes.

Maya Palavali, Staff Writer

You have your earbuds in while waiting for your drink at the counter of a dimly lit cafe bustling with energy. You grab your drink and turn to leave. Immediately, you’re met with a shoulder hitting yours. You look up to see tea spilled on the tile. Horrified, you run out the door.

I can’t believe I tripped and made someone spill their drink. They must be so annoyed. I am such a bad person; why did I do that?

I am naturally a clumsy person. Most of the time, my limbs seem to move on their own accord. It is common to see dropped school supplies at my feet and a sheepish smile on my face. It is a common occurrence at this point for me to cause someone to part with their beverage.

I always apologize and externally try to get on with what I’m doing, but I always have the moment stuck in my mind for quite a while.

I always attributed the bad feeling in my stomach I would get from hurting someone as sympathy for their situation. I dismissed the feeling of self disgust as putting myself in their shoes to get another perspective. 

Recently, I’ve begun to notice how much I internalize my actions and how it negatively affects me. Something as little as bumping into someone in the hallways causes me to fret about it for the rest of the day.

Upon further reflection, I have realized that these little moments are just the tip of the iceberg of my self blame. 

After every failure or loss, I turn to blame myself instead of maintaining a level head. It doesn’t help that my mind zeroes in on more of the bad I cause than the good I give. 

And the worst part? I genuinely started to think that I was the only one capable of these mistakes, that every bad thing around me was my fault. I never felt as alone as I did when I would replay the day’s mishaps in my head at night.

But I’m not alone. In an interview study about the effect of negative emotions conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the results found that 85 percent of the patients reported that the most bothersome symptom from the emotions was a feeling of inadequacy coupled with self-blaming. 

I had no idea that this was even a problem or a thought process I went through. The only reason why I began to water this idea was because someone else planted the seed of the definition of self blame into my head. 

There are many reasons we turn to internalizing problems, sitting in the feelings of guilt and shame. Many of us tend to form unhealthy attachments to specific emotions, one of the most common being guilt. Instead of confronting this thought process, we instinctively turn to blame ourselves, regardless of fault

We hold onto our mistakes long after the pain wears off for others because it is comfortable. It is more comfortable to sit in self blame because it justifies the act of self hate. Instead of processing difficult emotions like sadness or anger, turning to familiar guilt cycles can seem almost positive. 

Spoiler alert: it is not a good thing to perpetrate the cycle of shaming yourself. It might seem like the best action for conflict resolution, but self blame puts off the inevitable confrontation you have to make with your other feelings. 

When you get too attached to your guilt, it immobilizes you, stopping you from moving forward in your life. You begin to hold onto past events as an anchor without realizing how it acts as a barrier to emotional maturity instead.

There is no one way to help combat self blame. There is no “cure” because you don’t need one; guilting yourself doesn’t mean you’re broken. It is not your fault if you don’t know how to identify shame for its true form.

In life, there will always be mistakes made, both small and big. You will hurt someone just as others will hurt you. You will mess up and have to deal with consequences. But that does not mean that every mistake in life is a measure of your worth. You are not responsible for everyone’s problems because you didn’t cause them.

Let this column act as a seed of advice that I am planting for you. Think about who you are and what your beliefs are. Look inside yourself and see how you feel about your worth. Ask yourself the hard questions about shame and guilt. 

You look at the tea spilled on the floor. Instead of running, you look up into the person’s eyes.

“I’m so sorry! Can I make it up to you?”

After their affirmation, you go to buy another drink for them. Waving your goodbye, you leave the shop, satisfied. 

Follow Maya (@mvpalovalley) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.