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Moving on from a Mistake: 5 Tips to Relieve Your Pain

“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

Profile photo of Alesha Chilton

About Alesha Chilton

Alesha is an MBA graduate who enjoys writing to help others! Her recent book about relationships can be found on the Amazon Kindle store, titled The System For Women: Find and Keep the Man of Your Dreams Online! She also has a craft website titled www.chicandcraftydiva.com.

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  • Just me

    Thank you for your inspirational thoughts. I recently have made a lot of bad decisions in my life that has left me jobless, with an exgf and various other things. Your words have inspired me to try and put it all behind me, change the negative into a positive wherever I can. Thank you!

  • Alesha

    You’re welcome! I’m so glad that you found this post useful! I’m sorry that you’re going through a tough time right now. Things will get better! 🙂

  • Alexa Quill

    Great article, Alesha. I have recently been suffering with a mistake I made last week when I was driving. No one got hurt (thank God) and no damage to any cars/property, but it was an insanely close call. I was sickened by it and it was so hard for me to deal with until my mom went all Cher on me and told me “snap out of it!” (lol) and now I realized I have to be more cautious, which has also helped me to stay in the moment- which is so difficult for me but gave me a new perspective on life.

  • Eric

    Great post. I am currently mired in guilt over some bad decisions that cost me a very important person and have forced me to do some real soul-searching. I’m not a bad person, but a good person who made some bad decisions. I feel very lost and hopeless right now and not sure how to cope. One day at a time…

  • Impishlalita

    Really love what you have shared here. It helped me to wake up from not able to forgive myself, giving me a chance to realize why I become so stuck. Years ago, I made a mistake that hurt someone deep enough to cry and shivered for days, and it hurts me because it’s someone I love. I felt so much guilt and pain and I promise myself not to make the same mistake again by holding that memory so that I will never repeat it. I live with this pain and the other party I’ve hurt tried to forgive me but it was in vain and punishment happens like a torture because I was not able to detach. I could not accept the fact that I spoil a relationship that is so good, therefore could not accept the past. I kept wishing if only I can turn back the clock and I will be more careful with my actions. I was trying hard to move on and realize I sabotage myself because of not being able to forgive a mistake that seems too great. I searched online and found your site. This somehow wake me up and gave me hope. Thank you!

  • Sam

    Thank you so much. Ive been searching and searching for help with the way I think and feel about myself and youve helped.

  • Anon

    Hi um i sent nude pictures to 3 boys from my school and i dont know if i had my face in it but i have regretted it ever since and i cant do anything. I sent them last year but recently my friend asked me if i have sent nudes so there are rumours going around. I keep deniying them but im giving up. I need help please.

  • Aj Adam Adams Lambaco

    Hope you could post more about this topic. Im very excited

  • A messy mind

    This really helped me. I went to a party a few weeks ago and made many mistakes that I myself was willing to move on from, yet it was those around me whose opinions brought me back down to a feeling of utter self loathe. I realised that everyone stuffs up, and being a teen, it’s ok to explore what its like to be wild! I talked it over with a close friend who I know would never judge me for mistakes I stupidly made on one night and with the help of articles like this, I finally feel like I can ignore the voices of those around me and move on. Relationships end, some become harder to deal with, and other times embarrassment is inevitable. It’s the real things in life that matter, accepting yourself is at the forefront of everything you do. The people who truly value you will be there forever.

  • Hoffa Portella

    Have you made a mistake that you sorely regret having made?

    Do you wonder if the dark cloud hanging over you will ever go away?

    Do you think it’s possible to ever truly let go of the past?

    Casting young adults who have made a life-changing mistake for a documentary series.

    Documentary is focused on helping you let go of the past to make a better future.

    Please contact us at: ThePastCaughtUp@gmail.com

  • Hoffa Portella

    Have you made a mistake that you sorely regret having made?

    Casting young adults who have made a life-changing mistake for a documentary series.

    Documentary is focused on helping you let go of the past to make a better future.

    Please contact us at: ThePastCaughtUp@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    I just had a mess up a few hours ago. Seeing this is helping, but man it still stings.

    Tl;dr: I unknowingly cheated in an athletic event (read on, there’s no doping, just pure stupidity)

    I was taking part in a local duathlon that I had trained as vigorously as my crazed schedule would allow (long drawn out storm damage repair I had/having to do with little help, college finals, relative in hospital just 2 days before).

    it was my absolute first that I’d ever done and I was incredibly excited to take part. I wanted to do it because I wanted to start working my way towards the Iron man; a goal I had set when I was 13 and had forgotten about until a decade later.

    The event had two 5ks and a 30k bike ride.

    We get lined up and are waiting to start. The announcer is talking about the course, but I cant hear anything because of a loud group next to me. I shrugged this off because I was confidant in what the course was like. I started the first 5k well and was making good time.

    The next part was the bike ride. I didn’t have as much gear as the pros so I just grabbed my helmet and hopped on my bike. I take off, passing several people.

    I get a mile down the road and the chain pops off. No biggy, so I put it back on and continue riding.

    I get about 5 miles down the road and the stupid thing does it again. As I stopped to put it back on, I heard the worst sound I could hear at that moment: a hissing from the back tire. The wheel that I had kept having trouble with previously and spent time trying to get fixed at a bike shop had poked a hole in my inner tube for the third time this week.

    So I change the flat as fast as possible and get back to riding. People passing by are saying “ugh, that sucks”. But I soldier on and begin again riding.

    Now, when I was getting my stuff for the event, I remembered asking about why the bike portion went outside of the nicely isolated nature park and onto a busy street. The volunteer simply said “it’s so we could get the miles in” to which I replied “couldn’t you just lap it within the park?” She then responded annoyed with “no that would be boring. Don’t worry, there’s a police escort.” I didn’t see anything on the map about making laps either so I figured the bike course was one lap. I didn’t do the mileage.

    As I approached the transition area again a flag man flagged me to enter. I dismounted off my bicycle perfectly. So we’ll actually that a spectator said “nice dismount”. I set the bike aside and began my second 5k.

    Halfway through the second 5k I knew something was wrong: I had caught up with the pros. Normally I’d love this, but being my first duathlon ever I knew this was impossible.

    And it was…

    As I went through the finish line I asked my dad, who was waiting for me, about the bike portion. Turned out IT DID LAP ITSELF TWICE and I had missed the second lap because I had been led to believe that there was only one.

    We went ahead and packed our things quickly, knowing what would happen next.

    As we were driving out through the parking lot to leave, the awards ceremony started. Proudly over the loudspeaker, the announcer called my name for the best time in my age group.

    I had unknowingly cheated my way into getting an award.

  • Kris

    Thank you for this article. I’m going through some tough time at work. I’m devastated for making mistakes. I hope I can move on from this experience.