We all have experiences that we wish we could do over. Maybe we feel regretful, wishing we’d said something differently or done it differently. None of us are immune from making mistakes that we wish we could take back.
I recently had an experience with my son that was such a good reminder for me about doing it over.
I signed my son up for swimming lessons recently. He’d taken them when he was younger, but he hadn’t been back to them in a few years because he just wasn’t that interested. But he showed interest in swimming at an indoor pool at a motel earlier in the year, so I signed him up for a class for tween and teen beginning swimmers. He’s 12 years old so he was supposed to fit into that group.
Everyone else was keeping up in the class, but I could see that my son was choking on water when he came up for air. He didn’t have the breathing down yet, so I asked the teacher if she could work with him a little, because I was concerned about how much water he was swallowing. The swim teacher was maybe 17 and did her best, but my son was really struggling. I could see when she left him alone he was crying.
He looked at me at one moment and screamed a number of swear words at me, got out of the pool and stormed out the emergency exit, soaking wet in his swim trunks. I followed him and he kept screaming at me. I realized he was in full fight for flight response because he was so freaked out about the swim class.
We rode our bikes home and he started to calm down, by the time we got home he told me he was sorry and that he wanted to spend the rest of the day in bed. He handed me his laptop and said, “I know this will be taken from me and I want you to take it now.”
He laid in his bed and cried for a long time. I let him have some space. After maybe 20 minutes I went to check on him and he was still clearly very upset with himself. I realized he was being really hard on himself- a quality that so many of us struggle with. I decided this was a great chance to help him get over his feelings.
I said to him, “I’m over what has happened. It’s clear to me that you know that it’s not OK to behave this way and we’ve already determined the consequences, so you can forgive yourself whenever you’re ready. I’ve already forgiven you.”
He sat right up in bed and threw his arms around my neck and sobbed.
Then I said, “You learned a really important lesson today. You learned that you’re not the type of guy who feels good about screaming and yelling swear words at others. You learned that it feels really bad and that the next time you feel upset, you can talk to me about your feelings rather than reacting to them.”
He shook his head on my shoulder.
I said, “This has already happened and when you have accepted it and learned from it you can move on. When you stay upset with yourself you stay stuck in bad feelings and that doesn’t change anything.”
He nodded again.
I asked him to help me around the house, not as a punishment, but to get him out of bed and to get him feeling like he was a “good guy” again. He calmed right down and we had a good night.
A few weeks later we signed him up for private swim lessons and he was really able to master breathing and a few new swim strokes. These days he’s feeling great about swimming again.
As much as this was a lesson for him, it was a lesson for me too.
These were my lessons, which I knew because I said some of them to him, but it’s so good to be reminded of these things:
1. Everyone makes mistakes.
2. Everyone who is a caring person wishes they could take something back at some point- words or actions.
3. Staying in regret doesn’t fix anything it only hurts the person regretting and on the other hand, regret is a function of caring, which is actually a healthy response as long as you don’t stay stuck in it.
4. Much of the time forgiving yourself is at least half the battle.
5. Finding the lessons in the mistakes helps us overcome them.
6. Doing it over in a new fresh way that sets you up to be more successful the next time, because you have insights from the last experience, will help you the next time and to feel better about the situation.
When you know better you do better. – Maya Angelou
Check out Jena’s post on initiating do-overs when you feel you’re headed in the wrong direction: why she decided to do-over her blog & business.
Share your thoughts/tips/struggles around doing a do-over on your blog too, and we’ll post a link right here for our readers to check out!
Check out Ashley’s post on She Makes a Home talking about How to Start Fresh
and Michele of Tierra Verde Soaps shares her confession about teetering on the brink of giving up and deciding to forge thru her fear instead.
And Pocky from Living Apockylypse shares her personal do-over recipe (it’s a gooden’)