What’s Done is Done

Why is it that we are so willing to hang on to so-called mistakes from our past and use them to make ourselves miserable in the present?

Recently, I gave one of my clients the assignment of repeating again and again, “What’s done is done.” Based on her scowling face, I’m pretty sure she didn’t like that assignment. Like many of my clients, she seemed to relish the opportunity to beat up on herself over things that she’d done in the past. Why is it that we are so willing to hang on to so-called mistakes from our past and use them to make ourselves miserable in the present?

Anything else is simply torture.

Do we get some kind of reward for getting down on ourselves and rehashing the past? And how does it serve us to keep reminding ourselves about our rotten mistakes from the past? Can we change the past if we make ourselves miserable enough? Trust me, we can’t. The past is done and we need to take what we can from it and then move the hell on. Anything else is simply torture.

If you find yourself obsessing about some real or perceived mistake from your past, start by asking yourself if you can change what’s done. Then ask yourself if you can learn something from it? If the answer is yes, then decide what you want to learn and what you want to change for the future. Finally, ask yourself how holding onto this issue from the past is serving you? Is it keeping you from moving forward in some way? Is it allowing you to spend time feeling sorry for yourself? Is that what you want?

What if there are no mistakes?

Here’s a wild idea. What if there are no mistakes? What if we need to be exactly where we are right now and we got here from things that happened in the past? What if there is something to learn from the past or something about it that led to positive change in our lives? Rarely have I looked back on past “mistakes” and not realized how they have led me to big changes and ultimately a better situation.

Maybe I’ve snapped at one of my children, saw the hurt in their eyes, and realized that I need to change how I talk to them. I apologize sincerely and quickly pledge new behavior, and then practice putting that behavior into action. That “mistake” led to insight and a change in behavior that makes my children and me feel better. If I sat and mulled over what I’d done, nothing would have been gained from my poor behavior.

We all make mistakes and do things that we regret. Welcome to being human! Find a way to understand why you did what you did, how you can do it differently next time, and what you will need to change in order to stop that behavior. Obsessing over it won’t help you, those you love, or your ability to change for the future. So it’s time to say, “What’s done is done.” and move on!


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
Do you long for more energy? Do you wish you could walk into any room and feel happy and confident? Do you simply want to enjoy your life more – personally and professionally? You can. Too many women today are doing more, but feeling less satisfied. Life doesn’t have to be that way. With small tweaks and simple strategies, you can enjoy a great life with soaring self-confidence, a good sense of well-being, and plenty of laughter. This easy-to-read yet profoundly impactful book will be all you need to join the tribe of smart women living inspired lives. Your life gets better right now.

About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

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I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


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Comments to “What’s Done is Done”

  1. Great article Lisa!! I always need a reminder telling me “what’s done is done”! Your article was the perfect reminder.

    • Administrator

      Lori, Since I’m always reminding myself of the same thing, I thought I’d share it with others too! Thanks for your great comment.