Our perception of the traits and characteristics that make us who we are is often tightly intertwined with how we live our life. We define ourselves in terms of the roles we adopt, our actions and inactions, our triumphs, and what we think are failures. As a result, it is easy to identify so strongly with a decision that has resulted in unexpected negative consequences that we actually become that “wrong” decision. The disappointment and shame we feel when we make what we perceive as a mistake grows until it becomes a dominant part of our identities. We rationalize our “poor” decisions by labeling ourselves incompetent decision-makers. However, your true identity cannot be defined by your choices. Your essence — what makes you a unique entity — exists independently of your decision-making process.
There are no true right or wrong decisions. All decisions contribute to your development and are an integral part of your evolving existence yet they are still separate from the self. A decision that does not result in its intended outcome is in no way an illustration of the character. Still, it can have dire effects on our ability to trust ourselves and our self-esteem. You can avoid becoming your decisions by affirming that a “bad decision” was just an experience, and you can choose differently next time. Try to avoid lingering in the past and mulling over the circumstances that led to your perceived error in judgment. Instead, adapt to the new circumstances you must face by considering how you can use your intelligence, inner strength, and intuition to aid you in moving forward more mindfully. Try not to entirely avoid thinking about the choices you have made, but reflect on the consequences of your decision from a rational rather than an emotional standpoint. Strive to understand why you made the choice you did, forgive yourself, and then move forward.
A perceived mistake becomes a valuable learning experience and is, in essence, a gift to learn and grow from. You are not a bad person and you are not your decisions; you are simply human.