Correct Your Faults and Then Forget Them

By Bill Hodges

©2000 Hodges Seminars International

Correct your faults and then forget them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it is much more difficult to do than seems reasonable. I know that, in my years on this earth, I have continually strived to correct my faults, but some of them persist in dogging me long after they are gone. How is this possible, you ask? Let me tell you two ways.

The first is that along with the fault came a memory and the memory is so strong that even though we are not engaged in the activity we called a fault, the guilt feeling is still there and easily triggered. For example, a friend of mine is an alcoholic. For five years, he has been sober and attends Alcoholic Anonymous meetings regularly. Yet, he cannot put the guilt behind him for his actions during the time in which he drank to excess. Intellectually, he knows that during that time he was sick and the illness was the cause of his actions. But, emotionally, he holds onto the blame. He is not unlike a child who over eats and becomes obese. Later in life, when the child grows into an adult of normal weight, he may be cursed to continue thinking of himself as fat.

The second is there are those among us who feel it is their God-given duty to make sure people around them never forget the fact that they are not now or never will be perfect. These people revel in finding fault in others and dredging up past faults if there are no new transgressions to harp on. They rarely, if ever, update their tapes to reflect changes for the better in their targets. Like heat-seeking missiles, they are deadly at finding sore spots in their prey. These vulnerable areas, again, are the guilt feelings from previous actions; and when poked at, they will not heal. In fact, when those around us criticize rather than respect our efforts to improve, there is a very strong chance that progress will cease and the old habit pattern will resume.

In the first instance, the only way to correct the situation is to forgive yourself for past actions. Recognize that you are not perfect and fallible creatures will make mistakes. The wonder of the human creature is that we can learn and grow from our mistakes.

In the second instance, recognize that anyone who derives their self-worth from finding fault in others has more problems than you do — and forgive them. They can affect you only as long as you value their opinion. This may seem to be strange advice, but when you forgive, you cease to be a target worthy of pursuing.

Correct your faults, then forget them is something good you can do for yourself — and it frees up memory for more pleasant thoughts.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

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