Many of us struggle with our past mistakes, and allow it to cast shadows on our self-esteem. How do we change our mindsets, learn to truly forgive ourselves, build a better future and be a good example? We start with a good old-fashioned makeover, that’s how…
This letter from a reader is a good example of how, despite outward changes in our lifestyle that are healthier and wholesome, our past can still haunt many of us. It’s not uncommon to have self-doubt, but we can only be truly free when we wholeheartedly believe in grace.
I can’t forgive myself for my past mistakes, how can I?
Dear Mrs Darling,
I live a very different life than I did 7+ years ago. My values, my mindset and me as a person have changed a lot during this time.
However, the problem is that I still feel very ashamed and disappointed in myself that I once did not see and know what I know now so clearly. I feel like an ‘imposter’ and a ‘hypocrite’ for being who I am now, because I was once so different.
I am a very sensitive person so I tend to feel deeply, and I feel so very deeply that it was wrong. You have said in your book that you too lived a very different lifestyle before.
Do you ever experience this feeling? Or do you have any advice on how to forgive yourself for things from your past? I’m not judging anyone else on how they wish to live their life, I just feel like for me, it was the wrong lifestyle and I cannot make amends.
Thank you for all your post on this blog. They bring so much joy to my day!
Lots of love,
Why your past mistakes are actually a good thing!
Dear Ms K,
Firstly let me say to you that I believe that it is a very healthy thing for a woman to change, and I am proud of you for creating your new mindset, and making the lifestyle changes that you have so far.
It sounds like you are happier with who you are as a person and the way you present yourself to the world now. However I see that you are still torturing yourself over where you have come from, and what you have experienced in the past.
I’d like to help you positively reframe the last piece of the puzzle, and tell you that your past is actually no longer your kryptonite, but your super-power now! Let me explain why…
I am all too aware that we live in a world that celebrates and lauds perfection. We like achievers, and those “at the top”, but rarely do we ever pay attention to the long hard slog and nitty gritty that got them there.
We also put a lot of pressure on ourselves and others to be spotless lambs, but we must remember that there was only ever one to exist - it’s not you, it’s not me, and it’s certainly not one single person on the rest of this planet.
Second to this, as much as we expect perfection, we especially love gossip and juicy details of someone’s past, particularly if it is in juxtaposition to who they are now. As much as we like to see success (but not for too long), our sinful, gossipy natures just love to witness a downfall too, and the worst kind of people like to play a part in it! We only need to cast our eyes over the headlines of gossip magazines, or overhear a few conversations to know this is true.
I wonder if this is where most of your imposter syndrome stems from? Concerning yourself with the judgement and opinions of other people, rather than your own?
Keep moving forward and embracing the new you, it’s the only way.
As you will have read in Ladies Like Us, society loves a makeover, in particular women. Pretty Woman, Clueless, Miss Congeniality, The Princess Diaries, and Grease are some of the most successful chick-flick movies of all time. Our female protagonists blossom into a new life, gain confidence, and leave what was once before (mistakes, ugly attitudes, and wallflower tendencies) behind, and grow in confidence. Sure, the trope is that she becomes “really pretty, lands a hot boyfriend, and life is suddenly picture-perfect”, but underneath it all, when you look a bit deeper at the true make-over, it happened in their hearts!
These women gained confidence, and shed old skins in favour of what they truly wanted. They moved on from their past.
Those rough edges of your life can be hewn into a diamond! You have the power to do that. Diamonds after all were not dug out of the dirty ground in the manner of which we now admire them. Pearls too, started as a piece of grit.
Just think how your past, and how you turned it into something beautiful can be a testimony to other women in your circle.
It should be celebrated when we learn from our mistakes, and wisdom is the highest thing any woman or man can aim for - because wisdom gained from living through painful experiences can really inspire others! This is why I wrote Ladies Like Us, I wanted to demonstrate to other ladies that your past doesn’t have to define your future. It has made me the woman I am today.
I have a past too, that was full of sex, drugs, and miserable choices, and I am the first to admit. It would be really unhealthy to not have changed in the past 15 years, or take ownership - and while we might have to live with the consequences of our mistakes - there are so many lessons we can take from them that will shape us into better versions of ourselves.
Of course, some things are really embarrassing, but you have the power to shift your shame into something altogether new.
You have the opportunity to shift your shame into something meant for good. Alena Kate Pettitt
Please know that in this earthly life, and our spiritual lives, while everything can be forgiven, it’s not always forgotten. Your question to me proves this, but that’s actually a good thing, because from that memory you can use it to guidepost yourself onto a better path!
There may be some people around you who will want to remind you of your past behaviours and shame, but please pay them no mind. It will tell you that they have unhealthy mindsets themselves, and as long as you readily accept your past and realise the benefit of the lessons you learned, they won’t hold power over you! Things only have the power to bring you shame when they stay in the secret shadows.
Bring them into the light, analyse them for the lessons you can learn, and be proud of just how far you have come!
You asked if I ever suffer with imposter syndrome, and the honest answer to that is no. I am a new woman, many things have changed over the years, including my own morals and standards (as I have written about in both books). I have chosen a new way of living, I am a new creation, and I am evolving, growing, and learning as a woman every single day! I choose to move forward in positivity and with a growth mindset. My past is my past, I cannot change it, but I can grow from it, and I can teach from it!
You cannot be an imposter if you are living from the heart and do all things from kindness and grace, including how you treat yourself. To live otherwise is to live in bondage.
Ms K, just as you are not the same woman you were 7 years ago, you are also not the same as you were 17 years ago… We grow up. Change is good and healthy, as is acknowledging and being proud of just how far you have come. I applaud you for choosing a better path for yourself.
You’ve already come so far! Look forward my darling, not back.
The bigger question is this. What do you want to model to future generations of your own family and the young women that surround you? That a woman’s life will be shrouded in shame and restrictions, or that it truly is possible to forgive others and oneself, and go on to thrive despite circumstances and adversity. To actively live according to wholesome choices is to live in victory.
With much love to you, and deep affection for all ladies like us,
As always, a big thank you to our patrons and supporters of The Darling Academy’s mission. I hope this post has blessed you. If you like our values and found this post useful or inspiring, would you kindly consider supporting the blog.
If you’d like to submit a question to Dear Mrs Darling (which are always published anonymously for your own peace of mind), you can do so via the contact page.
All content and images in this article are copyright of The Darling Academy and are not to be shared or reproduced without our express permission. Leading image by Walter Martin Baumhofer. Image 2 by Al Parker. Images 3 & 4 by John Gannam.