A couple of months ago I wrote this post about allowing people to change. Allowing people to grow and improve without reminding them of the shortcomings they used to have and mistakes they've made.
And there's a very important sister post to that piece and it's this: allowing yourself to change.
I think that we all have things in our past we wish we hadn't done (or failed to do). If you've never made mistakes or said or done something you regret, I wish I knew your secret. I think most of us also have personality traits that we don't like. I'll go first: I am highly critical, I am uptight, I can be judgmental and I'm demanding. Yikes. That's hard to admit. The thing is, I am critical and demanding of others, but if I'm honest with myself I realize that I turn those things mostly on myself. That finger is always, always, always pointing in. I am also capable of laying a guilt trip on myself so thick that I can't see my hand in front of my face, if you know what I mean. And guilt is what is inevitably the outcome if I don't live up to my own judgmental, critical, demanding standards.
The biggest problem is, guilt is a constant companion. Just when you start feeling good about yourself, or feeling like you've been on a road of good choices and actions, guilt over past actions is enough to pull you down and make you feel like you're a horrible person. It's that voice that says, as soon as someone compliments you or thanks you for something kind you've done, "If they only knew the kind of person I really am, they wouldn't think I'm so great."
The thing is -- as I said before, we have to allow people to change. But it's so important that we let ourselves change too. Just because you did something in the past or were someone in the past, doesn't mean that you are or have to be that person today too. Our lives are composed of our actions every day -- the things we choose to say and do every day. It's important that we recognize the hard work we've done to change things we don't like about ourselves and to continue to move forward to the person we really want to be and the life we really want to have.
Past behavior may sometimes be an indicator of who someone is. But really, I think it's more of a comparison to show us how far we've come.