There’s only one thing that upsets me more than making a dumb mistake–making the same dumb mistake more than once. The first time I do something stupid it’s an opportunity to learn something new and avoid the same mistake in the future. If I do the same thing again, it’s just stupid. If it happens for a third time… well, there must be some hidden benefit for me in doing this, otherwise I wouldn’t keep on trying the same stupid thing, would I?

I used to be very harsh on myself when falling back into the same mistakes. Unsurprisingly, this has hardly contributed to lasting change. Beating myself up only resulted in me feeling even more miserable, and even less capable of actually doing better next time.

I’ve already made a lot of progress on this

I realized how self-judgement actively prevents me from becoming a better person. I learned to view obstacles, including my own shortcomings, as a learning opportunity instead of judgement day. I’ve had some truly inspiring visions of who I can become if I drop my attachment to pain and focus on growth instead.

Still, as much as I’d love to, learning all of these things doesn’t mean that I can instantly let go of difficult feelings by just breathing consciously for a few minutes. Sometimes the sadness, anger, and pain might stick around for a few hours, or even a few days. As much as I try to stay in a place of gratitude, challenging emotions may keep floating up.

I need to remind myself this doesn’t mean that I failed to learn my lessons. I need to remind myself that growth doesn’t come from feeling permanent bliss and unity with all of Cosmos. It comes from staying present with whatever there is. Even if at the moment the only thing there is happens to be feeling like shit.

There must be a reason why I don’t ask for help when I’m feeling stuck

There must be a reason why I keep hiding my head in the sand, until the tiny problem I had at first grows into a hideous monster of a problem. Like all messed up coping strategies, it probably dates back to my early childhood. It might have been the best possible strategy that I had back then. It’s certainly not the best strategy now.

But after rehearsing the same reaction for a whole lifetime, it’s not going to magically evaporate overnight. Even though I’m now well aware of this tendency, I might still find myself in the same situation again. This doesn’t make me a bad person. This doesn’t mean that I failed to absorb all the wisdom I learned on the retreats. It just means I am a human, and there will be always more room to grow.

Most importantly, it’s perfectly fine to feel sad and upset about this

It’s even perfectly fine to feel sad and upset for several days. The reason why I’m avoiding certain challenges is precisely because there are some emotions bottled up in me that might have been stuck there for decades. The sooner I let them out the better, even though it’s going to be unpleasant at the moment. If I let them marinade for another few years, it’s certainly going to suck even more.

I find it hard to admit when I’m going through difficult times

I feel that after having a chance to experience so much love, wholesomeness, and beauty, it is ungrateful of me to remain upset and sad. I feel an obligation to always be cheerful and compassionate, to embody all the ideals I’d like to see in the world.

But feeling intense and challenging emotions, even for several days in a row, doesn’t mean that I failed my ideals. It means I have a chance to embrace, accept, and eventually transform them, so that they stop unconsciously driving me to do stupid things. Writing this article is a good place to start. I am already feeling much better right now.

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