Give Yourself (and Others) a Chance

Venerable Pende shares her wisdom about learning to forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes.

I used to be so hard on myself when I made a mistake because I was attached to reputation and had aversion to failure. Actually, though, a mistake is not as catastrophic as I think. I never realized that I have to make mistakes to learn and grow.  

As I dwelt on my mistakes, I wasted a lot of time and energy. I felt disempowered and stuck. There’s nothing to be gained from criticizing myself over and over again. Now I know that when something goes wrong, I should acknowledge the mistake, look for the lessons, and stop beating myself up over it.

I found a short passage in The Daily Enlightenment* to be very inspirational and helpful. It said:

“Part of being a Bodhisattva is being able to give oneself (and others) chances again and again.   It means being kind enough to be able to forgive oneself despite one’s own repeated mistakes, believing that beneath all the unskillful actions is perfection waiting to surface. One who aspires to be a Bodhisattva treasures the chances one gives oneself. One is not to take the chances one gives oneself for granted—or one subsequently lets oneself, and one’s Buddha’s nature, down.  

“When it comes to others however, even when they do not treasure the chances you give them, in helping them to help themselves, you should never give up. This has to be the toughest part of the Bodhisattva career! This is where the practice of the perfection of patience comes in. Strive on, all Bodhisattva-wannabes! Give others infinite chances, but to yourself, it is better to be more definite and firm!”

Today may we be kind to ourselves and love ourselves as an imperfect person. May we think of stumbles as growth opportunities that will help us focus our energy moving forward. May we ask ourselves what we’ve learned and what we can do differently next time?  

May we give ourselves and others chances to practice kindness, forgiveness, and patience so that we can develop these good qualities and make more progress on the path of awakening to benefit ourselves and others.  

by Ven. Thubten Pende