This week we are observing Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur marks the end of the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance. It is a time for self-reflection. According to Jewish tradition, on this day we will be judged for all we have done in the past year. We repent to God asking for forgiveness of our wrongdoings and make peace with our fellow humans.  It’s not up to God to forgive us for what we have done to others, it’s up to the people who have been wronged to forgive.

Asking for forgiveness isn’t enough, you have to validate the person you hurt and accept that they might not forgive you.

The word ‘sorry’ is powerful when used with good intention and sincerity. It’s easy to say when you don’t mean it and sometimes harder to say when it is most needed.

Set your intention right. Clear up your feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, hurt, and guilt so you can enter the new year with a clean slate. This allows us to sincerely ask for forgiveness and also puts us in a better place to forgive. In both the Jewish New Year and on January 1, we often set intentions to be better in the next year and vow to ourselves we won’t make the same mistakes. It’s a beautiful way to start the New Year.  

Mistakes can be wonderful gifts too! They provide us with an opportunity to learn and improve. 

Often people fear making mistakes to the point of not trying something when there’s a potential for “failure”. 

The fear of making mistakes is overall more harmful than the repercussions of the mistakes themselves and sometimes the fear of making a mistake can paralyze us and make us passive. The failure to make a decision ostensibly removes us from the responsibility of the outcome, whether it is a failure or a success. There’s a paradox in not making decisions out of the fear of failure; you want to control the outcome of a situation, but being afraid to take action and avoiding decision making causes you to give up control of the outcome. 

You then give “external foci” to other people, environmental conditions, and other factors that are absolutely out of your control. This can be a heavy weight on many aspects of your life.

Understanding that mistakes are legitimate and even necessary tools for growth automatically reduces anxiety, allowing us to conduct ourselves calmly and  think clearly. We all make mistakes, but the question is how do we deal with our mistakes. Do we succumb to feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.? Or do we understand that a mistake is part of our learning process? Do we accept it and analyze it so that next time we can do things differently?

I often see this on the mat among people who tend to seek perfection in their fighting performance. The fear of making mistakes slows their learning curve. Mistakes can lower our confidence, but when we learn from that failure, adjust and improve through practice, we grow.

You will fail. But you must get up and keep going. Analyze it, learn from it, and get better.

Learn to forgive yourself, and you will find the courage and ability to forgive others.