Forgiving Ourselves When Things Don’t Go as Planned

Lately I’ve been forced to face the reality of a few situations in my life. I’ve come to recognize that these situations haven’t gone exactly as planned. When this happens, I think it’s important to allow ourselves space to forgive for what might’ve been. Accepting the reality that we don’t have complete control over our lives is essential. It could be something small, or something a lot bigger that happens – either way, how we react and choose to move forward in these situations can have a big impact. Let’s dive in to the importance of forgiving ourselves when things don’t go as planned – with a few examples.

One example is this past weekend, when I went camping in Muskoka. I had never been to Muskoka before, but I had heard it was very neat to check out. I had mostly heard of people staying in cottages, but since I didn’t know anyone in cottage country, I decided to camp instead. At this point of the summer, I’d been on a couple camping trips already which had gone really well, so I was looking forward to it. My plan was to check out what I thought would be beaches, do some swimming and exploring, and enjoy camping in the area.

Unfortunately, things seemed to “go wrong” right off the bat. The weather was pretty cold and rainy when I set off, so it wasn’t exactly the best hot weather to explore beaches. I also discovered that Muskoka isn’t really a “beach” place. To me, it definitely felt more like a place where you need both a cottage and a boat to enjoy the gorgeous lakes – neither of which I had lol. It was an unfortunate discovery for me, and I felt disappointed because the start of my camping trip wasn’t going as I thought it would.

In that moment, I had a decision to make. How would I react to being in a situation that wasn’t going as I planned? As I saw it, I had two options: option 1 was to mope about it and feel like my weekend was “ruined.” Option 2 was to pivot and make adjustments on the fly to still enjoy my weekend regardless. I chose the second option, and decided to pivot to have a “cozy camping weekend” instead. I enjoyed the cooler weather, dressed in layers to feel cozy, spent time at a brewery instead of the beach, and built a cozy campfire to enjoy. I actually had a really amazing time, maybe even better than I would have if things HAD gone according to plan!

This is a very simple example, of course, but the same principle can be applied to much bigger concerns. Relationships are a big one, where they may not turn out as you expected, and in those moments, you will need to decide how to move forward. Another one I’m facing recently is recognizing that my move to Toronto hasn’t quite gone as expected, and may not be working out in the way I had wanted. In this situation, I have a decision to make: stay in the situation and pivot, or throw in the towel and choose a new adventure instead. I still haven’t decided which direction I will choose, but knowing that we have the choice and some power in how these stories play out is important.

You can forgive yourself for things not turning out the way you anticipated. In most cases, you aren’t completely in control of the way things work out anyway. Though you may play some role, recognizing where it starts and ends is important. Even if you were counting on things to go one way and it didn’t work out, accept what is and find a way to move forward. How we react and decide how to move forward is often more significant than the situation itself.

The most powerful thing to recognize is that you can make a change. If you don’t like how things have gone and the situation you’ve found yourself in, then you have the power to change it. You get to choose how to move forward, and can create a new journey for yourself. Forgive yourself for things not going to plan, and have hope that the new path you choose may be even better than what you had hoped for. <3

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