To paraphrase an old saying, “To screw up is human, to forgive, divine”. One thing is sure, we all screw up, usually on a regular basis. What to do when you’ve blown it? Well, most of us do one of the most unproductive things we can do–beat up on ourselves. It rarely helps the present situation or prevents further blunders down the road. I think it is an attempt to make some kind of strange peace with our world, to balance the scales… “I screwed up but I punished myself so there is justice in my internal world”. Rarely a conscious thought, but lurking beneath the surface and wasting a lot of psychic energy that could be put to better use.
We might do well to take some advice from the medieval catholic monk Thomas a Kempis, who’s advice when we find ourselves having blown it in some way was to “waste no time in self-recrimination, but say a simple prayer for forgiveness and get back to the business of loving God and others” (my paraphrase). Why do we resist this simple advice? Is it pride? The unwillingness to give up control over how we feel about ourselves? And fear? The unconscious thought that if I don’t cream myself hard enough over my sins and imperfections I will slide uncontrollably into constant irresponsible behavior?