Utilizing your past to make a difference

Have you ever heard of the term “kaizen”?

It is a Japanese word that means to resist the plateua of arrested development, the actual literal translation means “continous improvement”.

This term was widely popular in business years ago. Leaders, coaches, executives, everyone used it as the new school of thought to improve their companies, employees, growth, bottom lines etc. For me it has a much more personal meaning.

I read about it in a book, and the author also used the following language:

It is a perisitent desire to do better. It is the opposite of being complacent. BUT, it is a positive state of mind, not a negative one. It is not looking back with dissatisfaction. It is looking forward and wanting to grow.

This absolutely resonated with me. Unfortunately, I have many things I can look back on and be dissatisfied with. If you are reading this website and know of my love for all things fashion, perhaps you have even seen some of my early outfits, or hey, who am I kidding, the sartorial mistakes I still on occasion make. However, it is not these that provide the must gut wrenching type of regret, nor is it the honest mistakes, or the well intentioned things I tried that didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. No, truly the worst pain is the kind that is self inflicted through making wrong choices. I have had my fair share of those. I have had hurt in my life, and before learning and educating myself on more enlightened ways of living I allowed those hurts (mostly caused by others) to allow myself justification to be self destructive. The problem with being self destructive if that you almost never just hurt yourself with your poor decision making, but others as well.

I have tried to do soul searching, painful at time reflection, and work toward building a “muscle” that can honestly asses the experiences in my life and how I react to them. Now, I want to always come from a place of acting through honesty, compassion, helpfulness and joy. Rather than the reacting or lashing out in pain, selfishness or other negative emotions. I had already began my journey to being an improved, elevated person when I read about kaizen, but loved that it allows for those of you reading who have not caused such significant hurt to others, or those who do not need to hit rock bottom the opportunity to review your past choices carefully and move forward in a better way. I know that I sure need to.

Throughout our lives we will make mistakes, some of us will make more than others, or “worse” mistakes than others, if you are like me, maybe you have made mistake after mistake, or ones that have damaged others, or caused them hurt. We are human. It is in our nature to be imperfect. For me, this has been shown by my very flawed decision making. I am trying to learn from those devastating choices and consequences however, and hope that my story and honesty here can motivate you to as well (even if you starting point was not as severe as mine).

Before I was able to learn from my mistakes, I had to, as I said above honestly and very brutally look back and examine the times in the past when I made self-sabotaging, hurtful, wrong or self-esteem lowering life choices. Through lots of therapy, reading of self-help books and thought I have narrowed it down to a very basic, three possibilities why this may have happened. Do any of these sound like you?

1- Your choices weren’t well thought out.

2- Your emotions clouded your better judgement


3- There was some other decision making breakdown or flaw.

Now, these are very basic to try and fit all scenarios. Within each category you can get more specific about what lead to you not being prepared, or why you were so emotionally sensitive/weak/selfish/angry etc. or why you were able to justify small or big breakdowns. But for the most part these should fit.

I truly believe once I was able to acknowledge the mistakes I had made. And continue to make. That I can find ways to learn valuable lessons from them. In preparation for a future life choice and the coming opportunities we will all face, I suggest reviewing and thinking through what went awry the last time you made a self-defeating or destructive choice. Take time to decide NOW what will be a more constructive or beneficial way to handle a similar choice next time. When you create inner conversations that acknowledge a flawed decision you can identify a more thought out strategy for the future.

Also, when I learn from my mistakes I find that my ability to be compassionate with others on their journeys grows by leaps and bounds. When we see ourselves in a true light we find a renewed patience, love and willingness to help others as they make the same efforts we are to be better people. I also find that seeing my mistakes, and the ramifications of them under a microscope creates a desire to fill the world with joy, helpfulness and light to counter act the negativity, hurt, pain or waste I have created.

Truly then, when we are bettering ourselves, we then are not simply just making a difference for ourselves in the future, but our awakening will cause a ripple that positively affects those around us. Which is an absolutely beautiful thing to be a part of.