You coped— you SURVIVED— as best you knew how.
At any given time in your life, you did the best you could with the resources you had.
You only had the tools you had.
You only had the energy you had.
You only had the modeling you had.
You did what you had to do to survive— to get through whatever you had to get through, to end up exactly where you are, reading these words.
There’s no shame in surviving.
Many people look back on whatever they had to do to survive, and they feel shame.
They hold themselves to standards of decision-making and behavior that would only be reasonable if they’d had access to greater or other resources than they did.
How many times have we looked back, with the benefit of hindsight, and bitterly told ourselves what we “should” have said or done?
Hindsight is 20/20, because in utilizing it we have the resources of time and perspective that we didn’t have then.
We can all formulate a perfect plan in hindsight because we have maturity and tools we didn’t have in that moment.
It’s unfair to drag ourselves for not using tools we didn’t have.
There is a subset of people out there who will make you feel like the main problem in your life is that you have been wrong more than you have been right.
They’ll try to make you feel that your poor decision making or weak moral character might be the problem.
In short, they’ll try to blame YOU for your life not working.
Don’t get me wrong: our lives are definitely shaped by the quality of decisions we make.
But we’re only capable of making as good decisions as we can in any given moment.
Put another way: you probably make better life decisions now than when you were a teenager.
Why? It’s not because you were necessarily a terrible or incompetent person as a teenager. It’s because adult you has tools that teenage you lacked.
Don’t beat yourself up for lacking resources at certain points in your life. It’s not your fault.
We can’t help that we didn’t have certain tools and skills at certain points in our lives.
We can’t go back and hand ourselves those tools and skills, as much as we’d like to.
All we can do from this point, is what we can do: make sure we use the tools and skills we have NOW, to create a life from here on out.
Some of the things you had to do to survive may have been a bummer.
You can be legitimately and emphatically sad about the ways you had to get your needs met.
Many of us should have had better guidance, better mentoring, better coaching, and better parenting growing up…but we didn’t.
Many of us should have been loved more. But we weren’t.
None of it is our fault.
And we truly need to be careful and vigilant about not blaming ourselves.
Self-blame doesn’t solve the problem.
Self-blame doesn’t ease the pain.
And self-blame isn’t reality.
Ease up on yourself.
When you feel yourself getting sucked into the vortex of blaming yourself for what you had to do to survive in the past, remember: past you is not the enemy.
Eyes front, with compassion.
And do the next right thing.