The truth about mistakes

Making mistakes is a normal part of life. Taking responsibility and facing up to our mistakes is a great way to learn and avoid doing the same thing again. If you can’t stop dwelling on your mistakes and it’s getting you down, there are also people you can talk to.

You might find this useful if:

  • You feel down every time you screw up
  • You want to learn some techniques for accepting your mistakes
  • You can’t stop dwelling on your mistakes
broken down car

We all make mistakes 

Everyone makes mistakes, both big and small. Think about some of the mistakes that you’ve made in the past. Did you eat something that you really hated the taste of? Or maybe you set the water temperature in the shower too cold? I bet you’ll never do that again. Without doing these kinds of things, it’s impossible to learn from them. 

Sometimes, however, the mistakes we make are a little more serious, and more complicated. Sometimes it takes us a little bit longer than usual to learn from them and change our ways. The most important thing in these instances is to learn how to accept our mistakes and move forward, rather than dwelling on the past.

Accepting mistakes

Fortunately, there are some handy tips to help us deal with screwing up:

  • It’s not a reflection on you as a person
When you make a mistake, keep in mind that it doesn’t mean anything about who you are as a person. Try not to jump to conclusions about your worth, value or anything like that. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s okay.
  • Be honest about it to yourself and others

When you screw up, don’t hide it and don’t try to sugar coat it. Even though it’s often a really difficult thing to do, it’s important that you accept full responsibility so that you become determined to avoid the same thing happening again in the future.

  • Recognise exactly what you did wrong
Are you aware of exactly what went wrong? If you’re confused about something, it’s worth having a chat to someone else who’s involved so that you’re totally sure what not to do next time.

  • Think about ways you might be able to fix it, or improve the situation
So, you stuffed up. Now what? If at all possible, have a think about some of the conversations you could have, or things you could do to improve the situation. You might find that you can smooth some things over and it’s not as bad as you initially thought. 

  • Don’t make excuses for yourself
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The sooner you fess up, the sooner you can get yourself back on track. If you’re making excuses for yourself, you’ll probably just prolong this process.
  • Talk about it with others
When you make a really big mistake, more often than not, it’s hard to deal with. Don’t feel like you have to do it on your own – talk to friends or family about it. They might be able to offer you some kind words or advice to make you feel better.

Can’t stop dwelling on mistakes?

If you’ve tried doing these things, and you’re having a lot of trouble accepting your mistakes and moving on, there might be something else going on at a deeper level. Start off by having a chat to someone you trust about it, and then you might like to think about organising a time to go and see your GP. They’ll be able to work with you and help you get to the bottom of whatever’s going on.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 10 December, 2015
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