Turn Mistakes Into Life Lessons

Posted on August 12, 2017

Mistakes can be costly – some more than others. Mistakes could have made your partner lose their trust in you, or cost you your job. Everyone makes mistakes, and have probably repeated them at some point. Instead of making mistakes over and over, we can make a conscious effort to learn from them and make wiser decisions in the future. Here are five ways we can learn from our mistakes:

1. Acknowledge your errors.
In order to learn from mistakes, we need to have the courage to admit that we made a mistake, and accept responsibility for it. Avoid putting the blame, or even partial blame, on someone else. Only then is it possible to change.

2. Ask the tough questions.
Reflect on what went wrong that caused the mistake. Some questions you can ask yourself are “what did I learn from this?” and “what can I do better next time?”. Writing down your responses to these questions helps you see the situation better. It also helps you be more logical about what could have been an emotional experience.

3. Create a plan.
Reflect on how you can improve in future situations and create a plan to avoid making the same mistake. Make the plan detailed, but flexible enough to change where and when necessary. The plan should allow you to make yourself accountable for your mistakes. For example, having someone who keeps track of the frequency of the mistake, or recording it in a book.

4. Create obstacles.
Don’t just depend on willpower, find tangible ways to make it harder for you to make the mistake. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, gave the example of a client who overspends every month freezing her credit cards in a block of ice. She would only have access to the cards when the ice melted. If she tried to thaw the block of ice with other methods, she would stop and realise she was being ridiculous. Have creative methods like these to prevent yourself from making repeated mistakes.

5. Remember why you want to change for the better.
Try writing down a list of reasons why you shouldn’t do a certain action. Morin gives an example of a woman who wrote down a list of reasons not to pick up the phone when her ex-boyfriend called and placed it at the back of her phone. She would read the list whenever he called to remind herself why she should not pick it up. Creating a list helps you stay focused and self-disciplined.

Morin likens self-discipline to a muscle that grows stronger every time you delay gratification or make a choice that enables your well-being. Mistakes don’t always present as one major error. They are sometimes small choices that lead to failure. Morin suggests taking note of these little errors, no matter how big or small. Take each mistake as an opportunity to build mental muscle and improve yourself.


Category(s):Self-Care / Self Compassion, Self-Love

Source material from Psychology Today


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