You have just hopped into bed after a long, exhausting day of doing absolutely nothing. Isn’t isolation great! You switch off your light and close your eyes to go to sleep. Peace and quiet. This is the life.
You are comfortable and content. The perfect breeze hits your cheek. However, your heart starts racing—it’s beating so hard that you sit up suddenly. You switch on your light and stare at the blank wall in front of you. Through your hands you whisper, ‘Did I really say that back in 2014?’
Ah, yes. The beauty of overthinking.
We all do it. Even the most content of us do. Unfortunately, it is something the human mind just does. But do not fear, the good thing is we can learn to control it.
Overthinking is a serious time waster and instigator of long, thought-out regret. It piles up over the years and clumps in the back of our minds until we finally find peace and then it decides to grace us with its presence, prompting us to create arguments in the shower about a disagreement you had four years ago with someone you don’t even speak to anymore. Frustrating, I know.
I would not consider myself an ‘overthinker’, however, it is something that everyone experiences one way or another.
During this isolation period, it is hard not to think back to past mistakes and think about the things your regret doing or being a part of. Your mind wanders so aimlessly it triggers emotions you thought you had dealt with a long time ago.
Social media at the moment is covered with posts about introverts checking in on their extraverted friends, and people thinking about their regrets and mistakes from the past.
We turn these thoughts and comments into memes to cover the panic with humour, but all it does is dig a deeper hole in which you will have to carve out harder and more painfully down the track.
We all have different stories to tell, but the one thing we can all agree on is: no one wants to think about their regrets and mistakes. So how do we move on from this? How do we stop ourselves from constantly thinking about the things in the past that we cannot change?
Self-forgiveness seems like a nice way of dealing with one’s own mistakes, but this is actually such an important thing to remember to do.
It does not matter how many mistakes you have made or how much regret you hold, it will always haunt you—if you let it.
Maybe you treated someone wrongly and every time you see their face, or you think of them, you feel that pang of guilt and shame. Maybe you were dishonest about something and you still carry that feeling of letting that person down. These things can be cleared!
Your mistakes will always be there written in your past, but the key word here is ‘past’. It happened. It has been. And though it is likely no one thinks about those mistakes anymore but you, this can still be a heavy burden to hold.
While we can feel crushed with feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, sadness, regret or anger, self-forgiveness allows us to recognise our mistakes (rather than hide them) and move on properly to live a healthier and happier life.
I am fascinated with the brain. When I think about how powerful my thoughts are and how they control me, my decision making, and my responses, I realise just how impactful my thinking really is.
In the book ‘Switch on your Brain’ by Dr. Caroline Leaf, she explains that our brain is shaped by our reactions to certain things. Whether it is a good or bad situation, our brain reacts to it and therefore becomes shaped according to the outcome of that response.
Dr. Leaf explains that “it is the quality of our thinking and choices (consciousness) and our reactions that determine our ‘brain architecture’ —the shape or design of the brain and resultant quality of the health of our minds and bodies.”
So, basically when we think and react to things negatively, the quality of our brain suffers. Isn’t it amazing to see the impact one thought can have on our mind and thoughts?
There is a great quote by C.S. Lewis from his book ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ that says, “What's done is done. There is no need to speak with Edmund about his past.”
The character, Edmund, has every reason to overthink his mistakes of betrayal, however this quote shows that, no matter how bad his mistakes were, Aslan ‘God’ forgave him and encouraged his siblings to forgive him also, forgetting his past and moving forward.
God has already done this with us time and time again. We will make mistakes every day, all the time, but when we ask God for forgiveness and we forgive ourselves, we are set free from the entrapment of regret.
‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ (Matthew chapter six verses 14-15)
Just remember, our past is there for us to reflect on to better our future, not to destroy us and hide us away in a barrel of regret.
If a mistake was made and it has shackled you down, I encourage you to acknowledge it. Once you acknowledge the mistake, pray for the other person and even approach them if you feel led, and ask God to move their heart to forgive you and the situation.
Even if they haven’t forgiven you or refuse to do so, God sees your heart, your willingness to change and be set free from your mistake, and you will live a better life because of it.
2 Corinthians chapter seven verses 10-12 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.”
Remember, God is on your side and the more you focus on the good and acknowledge the past for what it is and forgive yourself and move on, your mind will be at peace and you will have more room to think about the amazing things God has blessed you with in this extraordinary life you have.
Peace is yours.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts chapter 13 verses 38-39)
Cartia Moore is a sword fighter, trained and skilled in the art of fencing. She has recently graduated from her Bachelor of Arts degree and has completed an Honours in Screen & Media Studies. She is now going on to do a Master of Teaching (Secondary), focusing in the teaching areas of English and Film studies. She is passionate and driven to inspire and encourage others to seek and find their worth and value in Him.
Cartia Moore’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/cartia-moore.html