On two occasions last month, I heard friends of mine, both in their 70s, beat themselves up over poor choices they made many years ago.
As they shared dark secrets from decades earlier, I thought about the weight they had been carrying with no particular benefit to themselves or the people close to them.
I’m no expert in such matters, but I very much want to give them the power to let go of their guilt and remorse. Maybe it’s a failing of my own, but I’m pretty good at forgiving myself for my many screw-ups and (hopefully) learning a useful lesson I can apply in the future.
One trick that works for me is to make amends as quickly as possible. And I make them as briefly and directly as I can. I don’t try to recreate or explain the circumstances of my poor behavior. I just make eye contact and say, “I’m sorry.” Then my job is to make certain my future actions support the substance of my apology.
That’s it. In my eyes, when you are in your 70s, remember all the good things you have accomplished. While you’re at it, look toward future happiness by providing love and compassion to those around you.