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How to turn what holds you back into something that makes you stronger

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We can all be overly self-critical, especially when we realize our behavior could have been better than it was. Luckily, we can learn from our mistakes and do better the next time around. Here’s how.

Don’t be inhibited by your past choices. You did what you did. It’s in the past, and you can’t change it. What you can do now is to start making things as good as they can be from here on out.

Nurture trust in your relationships. Knowing that someone you love and trust has your back is one of the most wonderful parts of being connected to another person. In fact, living with the strength of spirit you get from this sense of trust is one of the great reasons for being in a relationship. Don’t disrespect the trust that is given to you, but honor it. At the same time, always stand up for yourself if someone in your life is being untrustworthy.

When you apologize, show that you mean it deeply. Whoever it is you hurt needs to be able to know that you feel their pain, before they can truly forgive you. Once you understand this, and if you repeat back what you heard them say, the person you hurt will feel you are making the heartfelt apology that is needed to create closure and help you both move on.

Don’t beat yourself up for being complacent. Maybe you needed to be low-key or accepting at that particular time. Sometimes just going with the flow can take you places that in the rearview mirror don’t make you look and feel as good as you would like. But it’s better to walk around a potential tar pit than through it.

You can’t really enjoy life unless you’re being nice. A few folks out there unfortunately do get off by making others suffer, but most of us feel better when we’re treating others well. If you treat your partner in a shabby manner, you aren’t going to feel as good about yourself as you would if you were being a good person.

Anger can kill motivation. It makes you not want to try. Avoid getting stuck in fruitless attempts at retaliation when you get mad at someone. Better to let go of anger than to waste time and energy doing something snarky to hurt the person who ticked you off. Instead, focus your energy and creativity on positive behaviors. Only good can come from it.

Don’t give up on yourself. There will always be slackers, and there will be others who are wildly more successful than you’ve ever dreamed of being. You have your own special blend of secret sauce, and once you perfect the recipe, the world will be begging for more. Comparing yourself to others just confuses what really matters.

Whenever anyone asks me how I became successful, I always give the same answer: I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned from them. So can you.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. is an award-winning psychotherapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of eight books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 35 million readers. He is available for in-person and video consults worldwide. Reach him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com

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