“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard
We all make mistakes, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that when we’re in the midst of them. We try to avoid them at all costs because the pain and price can be high.
It can cost us our jobs, our reputations, or our driving records.
In their election ads, political candidates often focus on their opponents’ negative aspects in order to make us vote for them instead. It’s almost as if we’re voting for the person least likely to mess up.
My boyfriend and I used to make jokes about the negative ads because we know they’re ridiculous; we know that they are half-truths and lies.
We’re always going to make mistakes, so I think the most important thing is to focus on our intentions and moral compasses. We can try to do our best, but we will never be perfect.
Just think about watching a gymnast slip off the balance beam at the Olympics. It’s so painful to watch! We know that she’s trained her entire life, hours upon hours every day to get there—and now she’s messed up!
We wonder to ourselves, how will she ever get over that mistake? Will it plague her thoughts for the rest of her life? It almost makes us glad we’re not in her shoes.
No matter how hard we practice, we will occasionally trip up. And we have to accept that.
We have to somehow pick up the pieces after that painful reminder of our humanity and fallibility. We have to piece together our egos and deal with a varying array of emotions.
And the emotions can vary greatly when our egos have been bruised. We can be mad at ourselves for making the mistake. We can feel upset with others because they judge us.
We all want to be accepted and loved, and mistakes can make us feel unlovable and flawed. We forget that everyone’s been there before and will be there again.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life. One time, I got into a wreck because I turned at an intersection too soon. The sun blinded me at sunset and I wasn’t wearing heavy-duty sunglasses.
As a result, another car sideswiped me. I sat there crying, upset at what had just happened. How was I going to tell my parents? What were they going to say to me?
Although no one was physically hurt, the pain lingered in my heart. I blamed myself and carried around that weight for weeks. My car was totaled and I had to drive my parents’ car to and from work each day.
I felt like a failure. My insurance rates went up. My driving record was tarnished.
I was scared to drive. But then I reminded myself of a few things that helped me get some perspective.
If you’re also trying to get back on the right track and move past a mistake, these tips may help:
1. Remind yourself that you are a good person who does a lot of good in the world.
So you messed up big time. Or maybe it isn’t that big of a deal. Either way, it’s consuming your mind and eating away at your ego. Learn to let go of that mistake.
Realize you are a wonderful individual with so much to offer the world. You have many great talents and have had many successes. Maybe you won the bake sale last year. Perhaps you donate to charity. Focus on the parts of yourself that you like and let those thoughts engulf you.
2. Know that all good things come to an end—and bad things do too!
This pain will not last forever! Everything is temporary, including the aftermath of the mistake you are living with right now. Is there a lesson you can learn from this? If so, focus on that. This will help you avoid similar mistakes in the future. And who knows, perhaps someday you will look back and laugh on this situation.
3. Avoid the urge to dwell on the mistake.
Dwelling on your mistake will only leave you feeling depressed and helpless, which will not help you move forward. Give yourself permission to take your mind off of it. Get lost in interesting articles on the Internet. Crank up your stereo and belt out words to your favorite song. Watch a favorite movie. Take deep breaths.
As more time passes, you will realize that your mistake is not ruining your life and that it’s okay to be happy again—if you allow yourself to be.
4. Take it one day at a time.
For example, if you’ve lost your job due to a mistake you made, realize that success isn’t going to come overnight. Create some small, reachable goals for each day, such as applying for five jobs, sending out five resumes, and doing three follow-up calls per day.
Over time, your efforts will add up, enabling you to succeed going forward. If you work on correcting the situation, better things will come in the future.
5. Keep a gratitude journal.
Focus on the things you are most grateful for, whether they’re your children, your house, or the food you eat. It is extremely difficult to be grateful for something and feel angry or down on yourself at the same time. Replace your self-pitying thoughts with ones of gratitude and feel the joy that comes washing over you.
Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Most successful people have made many of them! Learn from them when you can, and realize the pain is temporary. When successes do come, you can look back at your mistakes and laugh with triumph, knowing they helped you get where you are.
Photo by www.hansvink.nl