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How to Stop Ruminating on Mistakes

I used to always get buried in my old mistakes. It was both painful and took a lot of energy. Thanks to meditation, I have overcome this difficulty and have completely stopped ruminating. In this post, I share what I have realized so far on my meditation journey; my hope is that it can be useful for you as well.

What are mistakes?

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We operate in a similar way to a camera. With our five senses, we take pictures of everything in the world and store them in our mind. We also save our emotional state in these images. This is happening all the time, even right now. What we experience is our subjective view of the world, and our thoughts and feelings are inside this subjective image.

Think back to a moment in your life when you felt happy. Perhaps you can see where you were, with whom, and so on. Just by thinking about this event, you will feel the same happy feeling you experienced then. The reason for this is that the feeling is stored in the image. If you do the same thing with a painful image, you will be able to feel that pain or sorrow again.

Therefore, mistakes are nothing more than stories that are linked to negative thoughts and emotions inside our mind. They are like videotapes labeled "mistakes". When we look at mistakes in this way, it becomes clear that they do not exist in the present and that they are not real (i.e. they do not exist). Even though we can logically understand this, it is still difficult for most people to see beyond past mistakes.


The reason why it is so hard to move on from mistakes is that our mind is "sticky," meaning it has a tendency to cling to the images we have taken of the world. These are our attachments. The degree of stickiness varies among people, and a significant factor in our tendency to develop strong attachments to our mistakes is the degree of inferiority complex we carry in our mind. If we have strong feelings of inferiority, our mind is likely to cling tightly to images that fit our inferiority complex, such as past mistakes or times when we otherwise felt inadequate. These attachments make us ruminate and make it difficult to move on.

We need to realize that our mind loves these attachments. Even if we may say that we hate ruminating on mistakes, it is actually one of our mind's favorite pursuits. The reason for this is that the images offer the mind something familiar and comforting to engage with. The images of past mistakes align well with the inferiority complex in the mind, making it much more comfortable for the mind to ruminate on these events than to break free from them and move on.

The importance of freeing the mind

What I've come to realize through meditation is that we should make it our top priority, yes, our life's mission, to free ourselves from the shackles of our mind. If we do so, a joyful life awaits us where we don't dwell on past mistakes. We always live in the present moment.

Before I started meditating, I thought statements like "live in the present moment," "free the mind," or "be truly happy" were just cliches without any real meaning. I didn't believe it was possible to reach a high enough level of consciousness for such things to occur.

The more I meditated, the more I understood that it was indeed possible. The reason is that meditation takes us back to reality, to the truth. When we empty our mind, we see that everything in the world is reality (as opposed to our mind world, which is subjective); we can see it because our mind has become one with reality itself. This reality isn't filled with thoughts of past events. It just is what it is. Right now and right here.

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A real life is a life in flow. We do what we do, and when we engage in a task, results come naturally. This is a principle. Living a real life is a higher life than a life that is constantly filled with thoughts of past mistakes or other worries. We owe it to ourselves to work to get out of the world of the mind, because only then are we capable of seeing the true meaning and beauty of life.

How to free the mind

The way to become true/authentic is by getting rid of the "video recordings" of past events in the mind, along with all the thoughts and emotions associated with those events. To achieve this, we need to practice a meditation that makes this possible.

There are two aspects of meditation: introspection and letting go. By looking inward, we become aware of what we have in our mind: stories, concepts, thought patterns, etc. These are limitations that prevent us from being one with truth/reality. By letting go of them, we free our mind, which gradually returns to truth/reality, which is the original form of the mind.

To stop dwelling on mistakes, a good start is to allow yourself to calmly see the old mistakes without suppressing or denying them. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and look inward. See each time you made a mistake; let the events play out in your mind. It is likely that you will now begin to feel uncomfortable. You may experience anxiety, regrets, or self-hatred. This is a good sign because the exercise shows you the attachments to both inferiority complexes and pride. Allow the past mistakes to come up and also allow the pain to rise within you. Do not resist. Observe the images and let them pass.

When we do this, these attachments will begin to dissolve. Over time, it will no longer hurt to see the mistakes, and they will appear less and less "relevant"; we will no longer have a need to entertain our mind with them. This is the first step towards inner liberation.

As previously mentioned, a person who cannot stop thinking about their mistakes is likely suffering from strong feelings of inferiority. It is therefore important to also look back and become aware of every time we did not feel good enough, did not feel loved, accepted, or worthy of love. Just like with mistakes, these moments are stored in the mind as images or video clips. Let them come up and let them pass. In this way, we begin to clear out the inferiority complex that makes our mind prone to dwelling on mistakes.

To find complete inner freedom, deep and thorough meditation is required. It takes time and patience. I recommend starting to meditate at Stockholm Meditation (or at one of their 350 affiliated organizations around the world); they have guides who can help you with this process. They can show you how to empty your mind in a simple and systematic way.

A state of mind where it is not possible to dwell on mistakes

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When the mind is cleared, it will no longer be possible to dwell on old mistakes simply because we have realized that there is no past to think about. We live entirely in the present, which is reality, and this is the best way to "stop" thinking about the past.

This does not mean that we have lost our memory. It just means that the mistakes and other trials we have gone through in life have now been transformed and turned into useful experiences. Instead of causing pain, they have been transformed into abilities and strengths, through which the wisdom of the true mind can be expressed.

These days, I always recommend that people meditate. It is the universal solution. No matter how big or small your problem is, meditation will help because it takes you back to your origin, which is wisdom and truth.


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1 Comment

Gab Adam
Gab Adam
Apr 29, 2023

I wrote in my blog post last week about mistakes and failure. I had a lot of attachment to my mistakes and really avoided situations that potentially set me up for mistakes. But I can say also that meditation has helped me so so much to break that attachment, that fear. Mistakes are such an important part of learning and growing and I can see that now :)

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