Yesterday, I posted an article about why it’s important to forgive yourself for money mistakes. That is great, but how do you do it?
My first suggestion is to buy yourself an ice cream. Believe me, you’ll feel better.
If that doesn’t solve the problem completely, try these 5 steps:
1. Honestly admit the nature and scope of the mistake to at least one other living human being.
I’ve learned that I can either save face or save my…rear end…but not both. I’m more interested in saving my hide than trying to “look good” for others. If you made a mistake, get it off your chest. Talk to someone about it. This alone will diminish 80% of the shame you carry.
2. Remember that you are not a character on “Heroes.”
You’re human. You’re not perfect. If somebody expects you to be perfect, that’s their problem and not yours.
3. Keep things in perspective.
What are the likely results of your error? Are you going to be homeless? Are you going to starve? How badly have you injured yourself? Will this even matter five years from now? Have other people made mistakes like these (and worse)? I knew a man who waited too long to buy life insurance. He didn’t die…he just couldn’t buy the cheapest term life insurance because he was a bit older. He was really angry at himself for his procrastination. But why? It wasn’t the end of the world.
Besides having less money, how is this mistake going to impact your life? Could this error actually end up helping you? This happens all the time. When I finally looked at the real estate mistake I discussed yesterday, I saw that my life wouldn’t be changed all that much either way. It really wasn’t worth beating myself up for.
4. Realize that you did the best you could at the time.
No matter what, remember that you did the best you could at the time. When you made the error, you had certain financial tools, knowledge and emotional skills that resulted in you making the decision you did. Hopefully, now you have better tools, understanding and skills.
5. Document what you did and how you’ll do it differently next time.
Did you spend too much on a home remodel? Did you buy your car without doing research? Did you lend money to your brother thinking he’d actually repay you this time? Whatever the mistake was, write down exactly how you are going to handle situations like these in the future.
This is hard work but well worth it. You know what…buy yourself that ice cream…you deserve it. Keep this list of questions and actually write out your answers on a piece of paper. There is something magical that happens when you put pen to paper. The keyboard just doesn’t have that same connection.
Have you got some other tips for us on how to forgive ourselves? Have you ever tried these steps personally? What was the result? If you know someone who hasn’t forgiven themselves for past financial mistakes, please pass this article to them. Life’s too short to suffer for no reason.