Making mistakes is a part of life. And with mistakes comes regret, guilt, and maybe some shame, but we can’t be perfect all of the time. We are bound to make mistakes. The key is knowing that even though we do make mistakes, we aren’t defined. If you don’t take the time to learn from your mistakes, then you are selfish. Accidents happen, and mistakes occur. It’s a part of life, but if it’s constantly happening, then it’s no longer a mistake. It’s a choice. 

Not turning in one piece of homework in high school because you misplaced it is a mistake. Repeatedly losing your homework is a bad habit that you choose not to fix. Breaking bad habits can be tricky. (You can read learn how to break bad habits, though.) So how do you prevent a mistake from turning into a bad habit? You take the time to learn from it. It’s easier said than done, but so are most things regarding being a functioning adult. (What I would give to go back to being in kindergarten where my biggest stress in life is coloring in between the lines.) 

Tips to learn from your mistakes

Own up to your mistakes

First things first, you can’t learn from your mistakes if you never acknowledge them. Simply owning up to your mistakes is the first step in the process. It may also be the hardest step for some. Pride can be just as good as it is bad for you. Taking pride in your work can be great, but your pride can also get in the way of owning up to something that was your fault. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and admit to a mistake so you can move on from it. 

Get some perspective

Perspective is about how you view your mistake. When I make a mistake, I can get negative about what I did. It can fester in my mind. All that negativity isn’t healthy. I’m not saying to brush it off, but for you to learn from your mistake and to move past it, you need to change your perspective. Instead of thinking of it as a negative thing, view your mistake as a chance to learn. It’s all about having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. If all you ever think is that you can’t change then, you never will.  

Break it down

If you can own up to your mistakes and change your mindset to grow, then the next thing for you to do is analyze the mistake. To analyze the mistake, you need to be honest and objective about it. Asking yourself simple questions can help you. 

  • What was my motive? 
  • What went wrong?
  • Why did it go wrong? 

If you can ask yourself these questions and answer them, you can start gleaning information on learning from your mistakes and growing. This is the theory behind the practice. It’s like learning about a new baseball pitch you want to throw. You may know how to grip the ball and the arm swing needed, but you don’t have the muscle memory to throw correctly every time. 

Put it into practice

So you’ve taken the time to break down your mistake. You’ve gleaned some kind of lesson from it, and now it’s time to put it into practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Back to my baseball analogy, you can learn how to throw a new pitch, but until you throw it over and over again, then you haven’t learned it. Learning from a mistake is the same way. If you don’t put in the effort to change, then the chaotic business of life will make you slip back into making the same mistake as a habit. 

To sum it up

Making a mistake is human. Making the same mistake over and over is usually a choice. There is only so much grace and forgiveness you get for making the same mistake over and over again. You can apologize all you want, but without change, your words are empty. It reminds me of the George W. Bush quote that J. Cole uses in his song, No Role Modelz. “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once… shame on… shame on you. Fool me—can’t get fooled again.” There are consequences to our actions, and we need to accept those consequences. You make a mistake, learn and self-correct. If you keep making that same mistake, it might be too late for people to forgive you. 

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