Hard Happiness Truth: We Are Our Mistakes

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

we are what we do most oftenYes, we are our mistakes.

I know we don’t want to be, but we can’t figure out how to be happier until we can figure out how to be honest with ourselves.

We tell ourselves and our friends that we are not the mistakes we make, but don’t we also say actions speak louder than words?

Because they do.

Because what we say may be who we want to be, or how we want to be perceived.

But what we do is who we actually are. For better or worse.

When my brother was arrested and charged with robbing banks, we all kept saying to ourselves and each other that this wasn’t who he was. When he admitted to his crimes, we still held fast to the idea that these actions were an exception to his identity. A fluke. Not who he is.

On the day he was sentenced, I sat in the back of the court and listened to the charges read. I listened to the dates, cities, and locations. My brother robbed ten banks. I could no longer pretend.

He is a bank robber.

Or at least he was.

Now he’s an inmate, because our actions have consequences.

He’s also my little brother, the uncle who adores my kids and writes them letters. He is the kid I have spent decades loving and making memories with. We are what we do, and so I am the big sister who loves him.

I am a woman who broke her marriage vows. I didn’t slip up or say something I didn’t mean in a fight. I spent months pretending not to be married. I kicked my husband out of our home. I called lawyers. I’m not a good wife.

Or, I wasn’t.

Now I’m a woman who puts her marriage first, because we always have the chance to choose new actions.

how to be happier owning mistakes

I’m a woman who invested in counseling and shows up for the hard discussions. I am a woman who loves her husband the very best she knows how, and I’m a good wife.

Because the whole truth is that we don’t remain our mistakes.

We’re not what we did.

We are what we do most often. Right now, at this point in our lives.

We are the mistakes, the choices, we continue to make.

And that’s OK.

Because once we know that, see that, accept that, we can be anyone we want to be.

We just have to make a new choice and do a new thing.

7 Daily Happiness Affirmations

Start your day with 30 seconds of positive intention, free when you join the In Pursuit of Happiness Newsletter.

  1. Carly says:

    Very good post.

  2. Kim @ LiaH says:

    I could not agree more with you. We have the ability to change ourselves and grow into that person we speak of being, hope to be, and make it a reality.
    Kim @ LiaH’s most recent post: Taking Care of Your Special Moments One Card at a Time

  3. Kathy says:

    So, we are the sum of all of our parts!

    PS Love that you’re closer to finishing your book.
    Like how you’ve incorporated your very own Happiness Tribe.
    Take away thoughts? Be willing to embrace all of it.
    Yea, you!
    Kathy’s most recent post: “You just don’t have time for this dog…”

  4. Kent says:

    Is it awful that I always find myself just wanting to repeat what you wrote in the comments (because it’s always right on!)?

    We always have the chance to choose new action. :)

    Glad we participated in the act of meeting you.
    Kent’s most recent post: Our 80/20 Rule for Travel, Life and Work

  5. Megan says:

    I think the rationale behind “We are not our mistakes” is encouraging people to move forward from those mistakes. Guilt can sometimes hold us back. Understanding that you are not JUST your mistakes can help you let go of them (after you’ve taken your lesson of course) and get on with life.
    Megan’s most recent post: Certain Days

    • Miss Britt says:

      Actually, in this particular case, the rationale is to focus on acceptance. I think that needs to come before moving on.

      While guilt isn’t helpful, neither is self defense – especially in our own heads. When we run from that which we’re most afraid of being, we’re in a state of REACTING instead of choosing.

  6. Theresa says:

    This is the 1st post I have ever read on your blog & if they are all this real & authentic I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks so much for sharing & for encouraging us that we don’t have to stay the mistake….that is refreshing for me who often time lives in the past at least in my head. Thanks again!

  7. Kirsten says:

    Oh this could not possibly have been written at a more appropriate time. It’s as if you actually knew what I needed to hear this week. Thank you for sharing, Britt. Thank you so much.
    Kirsten’s most recent post: On Coming Home

  8. Love this truth Miss Britt. Your future does not have to be determined by your past, but until you own your past it always will be.
    Caz Makepeace’s most recent post: Learning to Scuba Dive in Sydney – WIN my Experience worth $1,598

  9. Our mistakes don’t define us, but how we react to them does. Live and learn and improve : D.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels’s most recent post: A Letter to My Therapist – An Argument for Therapy

« « How One iPhone App Can Make You Happier | How to Stop Worrying About Everyone Else’s Happiness » »