Made a big mistake? Here’s how to make peace with it

What do you do when something you’ve done is eating at you? We speak to someone who has been there first-hand.

I believe firmly in reinvention, which is lucky because when I was younger, I was a nightmare. Now I understand that we’re supposed to go through renovations, upgrades and even the occasional backward slide in life.

But at a micro level, we forget that we’re allowed to choose who we want to be, every day. You can also choose to be a psychopath like my alter-ego, Lola. She’s still in there, though she’s pretty much retired now. But before she hung up her glittery high-tops, anything could happen on her watch.

She could be fun and cool and sexy, but also tipsy and dangerous and annoying. Casey got invited to parties, but sometimes Lola would tackle, bind and gag her then throw her in the trunk of a car and turn up in her place, cackling like Harley Quinn.

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Good people don’t usually act badly for no reason. There’s often hurt, shame, fear – something – driving them. It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but its reality. Luckily for me, I subscribe wholeheartedly to the notion that reinvention is your right. So, the only way for me was up.

Then down, backward, forward, backward, more backward, around the corner, up a little bit and then down again. But, over time, loosely trending up. As adults, we tend to punish ourselves harder. Delve into your secret chamber and fish something out for me. Perhaps you never had a conversation you needed to have and then it was too late. Or maybe you didn’t treat someone fairly, and you know they deserved better. Now, let’s practise letting it go. Trust me when I say that I know this is easier said than done.

I still grapple with the idea of what people think of me for the dumb things I’ve done. While the person who made those decisions is completely different to the woman I am today, modern-day me still has to clean up my worst self’s mess – even if it’s just in my head.

The ‘Bad’ Girl’s Guide To Better by Casey Beros (Murdoch Books, $32.99) is out Tuesday.

8 vital steps to moving on

1. Stop judging yourself

You’re human, yes? Welcome to the world’s least exclusive club: the people who f*ck things up occasionally club.

2. Separate what you’ve done from who you are

Who you are – your resilience, spirit – can’t be taken away. What you’ve done is transient.

3. Ask if the punishment is worth the crime

Tortured yourself enough? It’s time to let yourself off the hook.

4. Find the positive

Maybe you learnt something or found empathy. There’s a silver lining if you look hard enough.

5. Rewrite the script

Just because you’ve spent a long time feeling a certain way doesn’t mean you don’t get to change. Embrace that.

6. Apologise

Firstly to yourself – you didn’t know then what you know now – then to those affected, even if indirectly. Say it aloud, write it down; just get it out of your head and heart.

7. Lighten the load

Talk it out with a professional or a trusted confidante who will listen and love you anyway – shame can’t survive empathy.

8. Break the habit

You’ve done your time. The only one you hurt by holding on to it is you.

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