Ask the Chief
Recently I was talking to a young person on the phone and this individual asked if I hate anything. They explained the question by admitting that they hated themselves for the mistakes they have made as well as their inability to get their life where they want it to be.
I paused for a moment to reflect on my own life and who I was in comparison to who I am today. As I walked back through the years of my life, I recalled hating. Hating myself for mistakes, hating myself for bad choices, hating myself for missed opportunities. I also recalled hating a variety of things and situations. I even hated some people for what they did to me or for their harmful behavior toward others. As I continued this introspective, I found that as I grew older my hate for things changed and eventually ended.
There or things I dislike. There are things I don’t approve of. There are things that I prefer and things that I reject. However, I can’t find anything that I now hate. Hate is such a visceral emotion. It lacks reasoning or logic. It magnifies the objectional while denying the plausible. Hate is a hard line in the sand, a dead end, a point of no return, that offers no solutions or opportunity for escape. I came to a point in my life where hate offered me nothing and took everything.
I explained to this young person that I was once like them, and I had hate in my life. I went on to explain that the difference between them and me was simply perspective. I am twice as old as they are and have lived a very full and experienced life. These experiences changed me. They shaped and reshaped how I see persons, places, and things. They formed, tore down, and reformed my beliefs and values.
I encouraged this young person to be patient and to be open to what life will teach them. Assess, reassess, and seek guidance from mentors. Being open to experiences and learning does not mean you have to sacrifice your beliefs or values. It simply means that you are willing to consider before accepting or rejecting a position.
I ended this conversation by offering tools to help this person not be so hard on themselves. I explained that forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself. Hindsight is 20/20 and is not fair to you or anyone else. If you made the best decision you could have with the information you had at the time, then you did the best you could have done regardless of what tomorrow may reveal. The opinion of others is just that, an opinion. Opinions are not facts, and they can change. Don’t place too high a value on another’s opinion especially your own. Allow yourself time to grow, heal and learn. Allow yourself the privilege to make mistakes and experience life. Most importantly, accept who you are today while striving to be better tomorrow.
As I prepared to write this article, I talked with a friend who offered another great piece of advice. This friend told me, don’t let the desire for perfection prevent the realistically achievable good. That probably sums up some of the best advice I have ever been given.