The worst thing about making mistakes… is not learning from it.
We’ve often been taught that’s it’s not okay to make mistakes, as if making mistakes makes you a lesser person. We need to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes but we are often stuck in a loop of making the same mistakes over and over and wondering why.
As George Santayana said in The Life of Reason, Volume 1, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Here’s what you can do to begin learning from your mistakes.
- Become aware of the mistake. Just note that you made a mistake and don’t judge yourself by saying things like, “Why do I keep doing that” or “I’m so stupid”. Awareness takes considerable practice but you get the hang of it over time.
- Think about how you were feeling before and after you made the mistake. This is also part of awareness training and also takes practice. Only think about the feeling and not your actions or the actions of others.
- Think about what you did and self-empathise. Say things like “I must feel really bad about what happened” or “It’s not easy trying to be the best there is sometimes”. Try not to be judgemental.
- Think about what you would do differently next time by asking “If I was to do this again, what would I do differently”. Try to be as specific as you can as this is a kind of action plan for similar situations if ever they arise.
- Keep a journal and write down your musings. Writing things down helps keep things in memory and allows you to review things later on. Keep to the facts and write down any positives that came out of the situation.
- Learn to “fail forward” by understanding that your mistakes do not define you and you can learn from them.
Mistakes are a part of life and we must be unafraid to make them. As a baby you have to fall many times before you can walk. No one thinks that a baby in incapable because he or she stumbles. Why must we give those labels now as adults?