- Rule 1: Keep It Under Your Hat
- Rule 2: You’ll Get Older But Not Necessarily Wiser
- Rule 3: Accept What Is Done Is Done
- Rule 4: Accept Yourself
- Rule 5: Know What Counts and What Doesn’t
- Rule 6: Dedicate Your Life to Something
- Rule 7: Be Flexible in Your Thinking
- Rule 8: Take an Interest in the Outside World
Rule 3: Accept What Is Done Is Done
People make mistakes. Sometimes very serious ones. As often as not, the mistakes aren’t deliberate or personal. Sometimes people just don’t know what they are doing. This means that if, in the past, people have behaved badly toward you, it wasn’t necessarily because they meant to be horrible, but because they were as naïve, as foolish, as human as the rest of us. They made mistakes in the way they brought you up or finished a relationship with you or whatever, not because they wanted to do it that way, but because they didn’t know any different.
If you want to, you can let go of any feelings of resentment, of regret, of anger. You can accept that you are a fabulous human being because of all the bad things that have happened to you, not in spite of them. What is done is done, and you need to just get on with things. Don’t use the labels "good" and "bad." Yes, I know some of it is indeed bad, but it is how we let it affect us that is the real "bad." You could let all these things get you down, fizzle away internally like some emotional acid making you ill and resentful and stuck. But you will let them go, embrace them as character forming and in general as positive rather then negative.
On paper, I had a seriously dysfunctional childhood and for a while was resentful. I blamed my bizarre upbringing for all that was weak or dispirited or badly formed in me. It’s so easy to do. But once I accepted that what was done was done, and that I could choose to forgive and get on with my life, things improved enormously. For at least one of my siblings, this was not the route they chose, and they carried on building up the resentment until it overwhelmed them.
For me it was essential, if I wanted more out of my life, to embrace all the bad things as being an important part of me and to move on. In fact, I wanted them to fuel me into my future, to become positive to such an extent that I couldn’t imagine being me without them. Now, if given the choice, I wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, looking back, it was tough being the kid I was, living the life I did, but it has certainly helped make me, me.
I think the change occurred once I realized that even if I could get in front of me all the people who had "done me wrong," there would still be nothing they could do. I could shout at them, berate them, rant at them, but there would be nothing they could do to make amends or put things right. They too would have to accept that what’s done is done. There is no going back, only forward. Make it a motto for life—keep moving forward.