How to recover after making a mistake

Stuffing up is a normal part of life. If we didn’t make mistakes we’d never learn anything. But if you’re worried about bouncing back, or find yourself only paying attention to the things that go wrong, there are ways you can turn it around.

This can help if:

  • you’re stressed about a mistake you made

  • you want to know how to stop dwelling on your mistakes

  • you want to learn from your mistakes.

Male counselor with student

Learning from our mistakes

The great thing about mistakes is that everyone makes them. From your footy coach to the Australian cricket captain, no one is safe from stuffing up. The important thing is learning a lesson and trying to do better next time around.

Every so often a mistake is bigger than a quick fix, and that’s okay too. But it may also take us longer to learn from them and to change our ways. The most essential thing in these instances is accepting what’s happened and moving forward, rather than beating yourself up over it.

Accepting our mistakes

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

You are not your mistake When you make a mistake, keep in mind that it doesn’t define who you are as a person. Try not to jump to conclusions about your worth or value. No one’s perfect, and that’s okay.

Own it Face your mistake head-on, own what happened and draw a line under it. While it can be tempting to look for an easy out - “I didn’t pass my driving test because the instructor had it in for me!” - realising you’re at fault is the first step to figuring moving forward.

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.

You better recognise If you’re confused about what you did wrong, or where the mistake was made, it can be tricky to put it in the past. Chances are it’ll still bug you big time. Try having a chat to someone else who’s involved so that you’re totally sure of what not to do next time.

Find the fix and give it a crack Most problems have a solution, and if you’ve stuffed up, sit down and have a think about what you could do to improve the situation. You might find that you can smooth some things over and that it’s not as bad as you initially thought.

Talk it out When you make a really big mistake, don’t feel that you have to cope with it on your own. Talk to your mates or family about it. They might just say something that sheds light on what happened and make you feel a little better.

Can’t stop dwelling on your 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 with someone you trust. If you’re not sure who that might be, or what service you’re after, click through to Reach Out’s professional help portal to look at which option might suit you best. Here you can get an idea of what it’s like to get help, what steps to take and how it all works.

Make the mistake While “there are no mistakes, only lessons” might sound like the kind of Insta-quote you scroll past every day, when you stop and think about it, the message is strong.

Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has to deal with them. It’s how you recover that comes to define you. Using the above strategies you can start to see mistakes as opportunities, a chance to pick up a little extra knowledge and improve along the way.

What can I do now?