The #1 Thing You Must Do After You Make a Mistake

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I make mistakes.  I fall down. There I said it; I make mistakes and I know it.

How about you?  Do you ever make mistakes … do you ever fall down, too?

Some of the mistakes I make are doozies! Such as …

Here are a few of what I consider to be my “classic” mistakes… the ones that seem to trip me up most often:

  • I hurt people I love and respect – I don’t mean to, but it happens.
  • I speak when I should listen.
  • I spend money when I should save money.
  • I let words fly out of my mouth that should never have been uttered
  • I eat the wrong food instead of the healthy choice.
  • I tell myself I’ll do something and I don’t follow through.
  • I get in a hurry when patience would serve me better.
  • I remain idle for too long even though I have projects to accomplish.
  • I take things personally when I know it’s counterproductive.
  • I waste time that I can never get back.
  • I’m sometimes unpleasant with others when they deserve much better from me.
  • I do the things that don’t move me forward rather than the things that I know would help me grow.
  • I forget to be kind … the mistake I regret the most.

The list could be pages longer, but that’s probably enough for you to get my drift.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?  What are the mistakes you make?    What behaviors do you engage in that seem to trip you up the most?    If you’d like, pause a moment right now to create your list of top issues that come to mind.

Here’s what matters most after you’ve made a mistake…

Now,  consider what you typically do AFTER you’ve slipped and fallen down?   That’s what’s important.

Let me tell a personal story to illustrate my point.

A long while back, I wasted a chunk of money and couldn’t get it back.  It was gone.   I wasn’t bamboozled; there was no one to blame but me.   I went wide-eyed into this situation and blundered in what felt like an epic way.

I berated myself for days.  I lamented over how I could have been so irresponsible.   I devoted all my energy to hurling chastising verbiage at myself for making such a stupendous mistake.   I allowed my mind to be relentlessly focused on the whole situation, going over it again and again, befuddled by why I acted the way I did.

People around me didn’t know what I’d done because I kept it a secret, but they could sense I was upset about something.  I was wearing my disappointment on my face and in my posture. My entire countenance reeked of doom and gloom.  I was no fun to be around at all.

This self-inflicted punishment went on for some time.   I had acted as both judge and jury, and I’d given myself the maximum dose of guilt and shame that I could muster.  I walked around depressed, demoralized, demotivated, and derailed.  And, you want to know what’s so ironic about all this?    I’d blown the situation out of proportion by a magnitude of about a bazillion.   In the grand scheme of my life, the error I made wouldn’t even make the top 100.

Finally, after a few weeks, life got back to normal and the event slipped into the far back corners of my mind.

In case you were wondering, that story is an example of what NOT to do when you fall down.

the #1 thing you must do after you make a mistake

Remember these 7 lessons whenever you make a mistake …

The top lessons of what NOT to do include:

  1. Do not shame yourself.
  2. Do not judge yourself.
  3. Do not berate yourself.
  4. Do not make the situation bigger than it is.
  5. Do not keep secrets from people who love you.
  6. Do not focus on the negatives instead of the lessons learned.
  7. Do not assume the mistake discounts your intelligence or worth in any way – it does not.The power of vulnerability - brene brown

The title of this article is The #1 Thing You Must Do After You Make a Mistake  and you may be confused about what the #1 thing is.  Hold on for just a bit —  I’ve not divulged that secret yet because there’s more to the story.  Actually, there’s a second story.

Fast forward to a while back, but not as far back as story #1.  Here’s story #2 … I’ll give you the short version boiling it down to its essence:

The same situation happened again – a near identical repeat of the incident in Story #1:  I spent a chunk of money the wrong way again.  And, once again, I can’t get it back.   I had not learned a thing from the first time this happened.  I was right back where I started.   So, how did I respond  the second time:

I forgave myself and got right back up right away.  I exercised self-compassion and forgiveness.

That’s one action – with 3 parts:  1)forgiveness,  2) get back up,  and 3) right away.   It’s one elegant action that makes all the difference in the world to the quality of our lives and the ability to learn and benefit from our mistakes.

So that’s it folks – the #1 thing you must do if you make a mistake and fall down:  forgive yourself and get back up right away.

Here’s the real deal about mistakes and forgiveness  …

Of course, there’s more to dealing with mistakes than the #1 thing to do –  you’re not done after you forgive yourself and get back up quickly.

Remember all those things I said NOT to do a while back?      Here is how to replace that unhelpful behavior with thoughts and actions that do help:

  • Instead of feeling shame … love yourself through the mistake.
  • Instead of judging yourself … create practical strategies for what you’ll do next time should the same situation ever arise.  Give yourself options!
  • Instead of berating yourself …  remind yourself that you are capable of growth and change and that you can keep this from happening again.
  • Instead of making the situation bigger than it is … keep it in perspective.
  • Instead of focusing on the negatives … focus on the positives that are gained from your mistake.
  • Instead of keeping secrets … enlist the support of your loved ones and friends.
  • Instead of assuming the mistake means you’re unintelligent or worthless …  know with the greatest of certainty that you are capable and that your value can never be diminished even one teeny tiny bit by any mistake you make. You are a precious human being who deserves both respect and love from yourself no matter what!
  • I’ll add one more to the list that wasn’t covered before:  If someone was harmed by your mistake – ask for their forgiveness.  Do whatever you can to right your wrong.  They’ll respect you for it and you’ll sleep better knowing you did the right thing.

My old melodramatic reactions to my mistakes never helped me.  That was nothing more than habit … a bad habit that can be unlearned.

When you make a mistake … when you fall down because of something you did … ruminating in misery will never, ever help you!   Get back up and have confidence in your ability to solve the problem and learn from the mistake so history does not repeat itself.

Do not waste another moment of your life worrying about something you cannot change. Keep your eye on what you can do today and going forward.  Learn to handle your mistakes with love, forgiveness, a positive, quick response and arm yourself with a “what to do next time” strategy. I promise, your life will be filled with much more peace and joy if you do.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:    What have your mistakes taught you in life?  How did you bounce back … or what pain did you experience by not “bouncing back?”   Share your comments, thoughts, and/or your story in the  SPEAK YOUR MIND section below.


self compassion - kristin neff

Quotes – Learning from Mistakes We Make

We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted afterward.

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but saying that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.

Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?

Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so put it behind you. We should regret our mistake and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.

We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are here now with the power to shape your day and your future.

Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

One mistake does not have to rule a person’s life.

Books on Coming Back from Mistakes We Make and the Power of Forgiveness

46 thoughts on “The #1 Thing You Must Do After You Make a Mistake”

  1. Andria — What you’re describing sounds only a little bit like a mistake, more of a misunderstanding really, and mostly like you’re dealing with a difficult sister. Difficult relatives who lay down the rules on how families should work are sometimes a reality of life. Continue to have heart-to-heart conversations with your friend; A true friend will forgive. Practice forgiving your sister in your thoughts. Here’s an example of an affirmation you might say to yourself: “I forgive my sister because I love her and I release all bitterness in my heart towards her. I also release the need to worry about this. I know I acted out of kindness in this situation. I am at peace with what I did.”

    Give this some time to blow over and be led by your loving heart and not your worry and fear. You probably won’t be able to make everyone happy in this situation, but it sounds like nothing you did was out of malice. A mistake, maybe given the cold reactions you’re facing, but you acted out of the spirit of kindness and inclusion.

    Do your best NOT to engage with your sister anymore over this matter. Accept her for who she is; she will not change. If you bring up the issue again, it may just make her mad … and that won’t serve anyone. If she brings it up, you can simply repeat that you’re sorry that you never imagined it was a problem and you just want to put it behind you now and move on.

    Most of all, do not continue to stew in worry and regret. What’s done is done and you cannot go backward. Chalk this one up to a lesson learned about your sister.

  2. Thank you for the article. 🙂 I’m having serious trouble with lameniting over past mistakes. Huge troubles. What I found out actualy is that the more we laminate, feel guilty, revise the situation over and over again, there is more chances we will not learn from the mistake and make it again. 🙂

  3. Thanks, I’m consumed these past 2 months with a mistake, not taking a house that I should have known was perfect and not to be found again. There is a real need to find a place and this was it. Now I regret the decision, it’s consequences but even more, confidence in my judgment. Amazing how paralyzing something so mundane can be. I try to be philosophical about it but continue to berate myself. It’s a mistake I doubt that I would have made had I been on my A game but I’ve been making mostly, not all, bad decisions the past 12 months. I’m not a quitter but certainly feel like a failure. Of course, the context, financial, family has been bad for some time and this house would have helped alleviate some of the pressure. Now, time to forgive but not forget. I’ve always landed on my feet, even when there seemed to be no way out and will have to go back to good old self belief, reliance & try to be kind to others if only not to dwell on apparent misfortune. Buonanotte, Tom

  4. Dear J,

    How can you learn from a serious mistake that involves saying the wrong thing to a friend, when initially we thought it was ok to say it.

    What if the same suggestion that is offensive to one person, is agreeable or ok to another? How can I learn from something completely unpredictable? I feel like I’m doomed to the same outcome over and over if people I want to be close to have adverse reactions when I express what I want.


    • Were you kind? Are you sure? Was your request (or whatever it was you said) absent of judgment and/or criticism? Was the request a fair one to make, or did it put an undue burden on the other person?

      You cannot hold yourself responsible for others’ reactions. People will react differently because we are all different. Just because you did not get the response or reaction you wanted, doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. If you were non-judgmental and kind, then you’ve done what you can. Even then, people may still not embrace what you have to say. That’s their choice, just as it was your choice to say it.

      There were no details in your post to give me context for what actually happened, but frankly, there didn’t need to be. You can learn from every interaction with people, but typically what you learn about is that ONE person you’re interacting with. If, though, you keep finding that people you are interacting with seem to be all responding the same, you do need to ask yourself 1) is the problem that I’m not being kind, non-judgmental, reasonable, etc.? or 2) am I continuing to be around/attract the wrong kind of people for me? You may need to alter your approach, or you may need to reconsider the company you’re keeping.

      Just some food for thought.

  5. What a great article and I am super impressed with the time you have taken to offer your love responses to the others.
    I made a mistake in harshly reacting to my mom who has been excluding me for years. My situation is I am 52 years old and my mom and I don’t really know or understand each other. She has done many inappropriate-(as in CPS would have taken me away as a child) and hurtful things. I have tried for so long to have a good relationship with her. I often feel taken advantage of as she has never babysat or done for me all that she has for her other two daughters, so I am feeling very left out on a real and serious level. To make matters worse I have a very strongly hateful step sister. *My mom was married 4 times, husband 3 and 4 were brothers. My mother will not defend me, on the contrary, she has taught my siblings unkind things about me. I have caught her gossiping about me in my own home even after doing so many great things for her. I am now a grandma and my youngest son is moving out for college tomorrow. She didn’t reach out to him to congratulate him with a card or anything and yet wants everyone to acknowledge her. He was in the hospital and almost lost his life on two different hospitalized occasions and she never called or supported me while almost there for a month each time. *He has Ulcerative Colitis.
    She is unwilling to change. I wanted so badly to share with her why I am hurt, but all she could do was talk over me and tell me to ‘forget the past’, I only wanted to share how I was hurt over being excluded from her last birthday celebration with her other two daughters.
    She teams up with my sisters and doesn’t include me in any celebrations. My heart couldn’t take it anymore. So I unfriended them on FB so I wouldn’t see all the festivities that hurts me. I felt like I didn’t want the relationship anymore because of the pain, yet it is also painful without it.
    I forgive her for not having the skills or courage to ask me about my pain, or having the “ability” to listen to me, for not defending me, protecting me or attending to me and my family. Hopefully for her benefit she can forgive me from acting out of a place of pain, and what I sometimes feel is wisdom. I didn’t want to continue forcing myself into a relationship or family that wasn’t willing to protect me, defend me, or engage and include my family. Thank you for listening and for your support and encouragement.

    • Sending you much love as you endeavor to create peace and embrace forgiveness in your life. You’ve been through a lot; praying that peace, love, and harmony may become the dominant vibrations in your life. I know that difficulties with family — especially parents — can be heartbreaking. Many do not receive the love and support they need from their parents. We want others to change, but the truth is that it’s often best to make peace with the fact that they won’t change, or maybe can’t change. All you can do is focus on creating the best life for you that you can … offering love to others, but also creating strong healthy boundaries so that they cannot hurt you anymore. May you find the strength to create those boundaries in your life and hold on to the peace you deserve. Sending prayers for love and light in your life, – J. Marie

  6. I have done unforgettable same mistake again and again what I did , I m drinking a lot these days ,two times I was roaming totally nude after drinking openly in society. My colleagues were seeing all this and that time I was not knowing how I did this. Next day I heard all this from colleagues and when I woke up in next day I was totally nude. Now everyone is laughing on this and talking about this. My name became very bad in my company. Now I m feeling very shameful. No one is giving me respect, not even my room mates and juniors. Sometimes suicidal thought are also coming in my mind. I was never be like that. Actually I was always keep myself away from drinking and smoking. I m not getting how I became like this . I m in very much depression I m not getting what must I do. When I go to work everyone is seeing me in weird way. I can not forget this. Every time all this is coming in my mind.what do I do?

    • Robin — what you’ve discussed in your message are signals that you have a serious issue that requires immediate intervention. Here’s my strong recommendation: If you’re feeling suicidal, call 1-800-273-8255 immediately. You can also go to for help. Also, this is VERY IMPORTANT, contact AA today. Their website is The AA site has all the info you need to find help in your area. You must reach out for l help –there’s no shame in it. You MUST reach out for it. It is the only effective way to address the very serious yet very human issues you’re facing. B&C cannot offer medical or professional advice; our content is informational and motivational only. Something is happening in your life that’s causing you this distress, and you need help figuring out why these behaviors and thoughts are coming to the surface and how you can change. Even if you don’t feel AA is right for you, reach out to them anyway. Or at least make an appointment with a professional therapist. And again, when you have suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention hotline. 1-800-273-8255.

      My prayers are with you as you walk this difficult time in your life.

      • Thank you very much but I will never do suicide because I m not loser. I just need positivity in my life. I m feeling very lonely in my life. I just want to know how to remove loneliness and how to face the situation from whatever mistakes I have done that I mentioned in previous post. Please tell me. Please read my previous post again forget about suicide and give me suggestions. It will be very helpful for me.

        • I’m so sorry I was late in responding. My site didn’t alert me there was a new message, so I just saw it now.

          If you want to get over loneliness, go out and be a friend. Volunteering is the best and easiest way, because you automatically have something in common with the people you’re volunteering with. Also, join groups that share a common interest (such as hiking, reading, quilting, archery,etc … usually a sport or a hobby.

          As for getting others to forget what you did in the past, forget about that. It probably won’t happen. If you haven’t apologized and feel you need to, go ahead and do that. You can show that your behavior is changed, but there are some mistakes that there’s no coming back from. The secret there is not worrying about others’ opinions; keep focusing on your own opinion of yourself and strive to be a person that YOU can be proud of.

          As for facing the mistakes of the past: Every time you think of a past mistake, tell yourself “Today is a new day and I choose better behaviors for myself today.” Repeat this mantra like it was the most important thing you did each day. Possibly hundreds of times a day (and do it for at least 30 days). This will not erase what you’ve done, but it will set you on the road for both a more positive attitude and will help you with choosing better behavior down the road.

          Your last post indicated that your behavior was so extreme that there may be a substance abuse issue going on, and for that, you will need a program like AA to help you. Anything short of a full-out commitment like that will be insufficient because if there is an addiction in play, you need a multi-dimensional program and AA is the best one that I know (others may be good, too, but I don’t know any other program well enough to recommend it). You don’t even have to know for sure you have an addiction to go to AA — reach out and attend a few meetings. The meetings will help you sort out what you need.

          Finally, be good to yourself. Self-criticism and self-hatred never fixed anything. Love yourself. Sending love and peace and more prayers, J. Marie

  7. I appreciate all the loving support you have given people. I too just made a mistake, which hurt a few people. My greatest regrets are the people who hadn’t done anything wrong that got caught in my honest mistake. Also the very real possibility that my name will not mean what it did before. I’ve apologized, come up with a system to ensure future issues do not happen and felt awful. I believe guilt is only useful if it drives us to become better, after that it actually keeps us from progressing…but it is still difficult to suffer the concequences of an honest mistake.

  8. I made a really big mistake just 3 days ago and I can’t even imagine ever feeling OK again, forget feeling good again. I am trying everything in my power to not think about it but it consumes every thought in my head. I hurt loved ones and I don’t know if it can ever be fixed. Everything is in shambles. I just hope that over time this will heal and I can go back to being the happy person that I am. I will re read this article every day until I start to feel better. I find comfort in knowing other people do and have felt the way I do. I just want to make things better for myself and loved ones.

  9. Hi,
    I am 29 yr old lady, I learnt to drive when I was 18 but never really drove after that. But recently for dropping kids to school I started driving again. I am just two weeks into it and very cautious. I parked the car and someone left a big scratch mark on the car. I feel so guilty about it, it’s as if I did it cause I stay in a joined family and it’s a family car. I am so scared and embarrassed. I don’t feel like facing the family.

    • S.S. — if there’s one thing EVERY driver must learn to embrace, is that accidents happen. To everyone. And many, many, many of them cannot be avoided. In this case, it sounds like there was NOTHING you could have done. Someone else hit a parked car … how can that be your fault? Even it if you didn’t park it in a great place, that’s still no reason for someone else to hit it (and they probably didn’t do it maliciously … it was probably a true unintended event … a true ACCIDENT!).

      This could easily have happened to a very experienced driver. So, give yourself a break. You didn’t do anything to intentionally hurt the car. It was an accident, and frankly, not even a very big one (it’s a scratch on the car … it’s probably not the first one, and in all likelihood it won’t be the last one!). If you learned a lesson about where/how to park, great. Heed the lesson going forward. If you learned that no matter what you do, accidents can happen, that’s great, too! Because not everything is under your control … and that’s a lesson in life we ALL need to learn. No need to feel scared or be embarrassed … so stop dwelling there because it doesn’t help you OR your family! Will your family understand that this isn’t your fault, and it’s really not a big deal anyway? Most reasonable people will understand this, but even if they don’t, the truth is that this wasn’t your fault and in light of all the difficult and troubling things that happen in life, this is really pretty small. Keep life in perspective and you’ll be happier.

      Wishing you all the best in putting this truly minor circumstance in the past and moving on in joy in your life. May peace and love and joy enter your heart today and always, – J. Marie

  10. Hi I’ve made many terrible mistakes. Most of which include being to loose with my finances. Since finishing university I have in debt with two over drafts and a credit card totally £4000 and I am in debt to my dad a further £4000 for a car and other debt consolidation :/

    My dad is the most wonderful man I know and far to kind for his own good. My dad has been helping get out debt for as long as I can remember. The money he is using to help me comes from a saving he had for when I get married and we hope that once my credit rating improves I can take out a one manageable debt consolidation loan from a student scheme my bank offers.

    My major mistake is last week I went to Ireland on a horse riding holiday (riding being something im very passionate about), whilst I was over there I rode a horse that was for sale; being caught up in a my girls break away I agreed to my friend putting down a deposit for me for the horse. I am due to getting paid on Friday around £1300 and £1000 of my wages will come straight out of my account and a following £600 + £300 deposit my friend made at the end of next month.

    I’m appalled at my actions and how irresponsible ive acted. My father will never forgive me when he finds out, and I am to spend the next 2 months in a terribly skint position to pay off this immediate debt.

    I know I have two options:
    1. Call the lady apologise and give back word on the sale, resulting in me only loosing £300 (which is something I really cant afford to do an twist me up inside), as well as annoy my friend who will feel the sellers upset as they are acquainted and be fuming about the trouble she went through to help me by the horse in the first place.

    2. Honour my agreement and pray that I have the funds to pay off the cost and keep my head afloat with my already painful debts.

    Im scared and worried. I don’t know what to do. I hate the thought of having to call and give back word and the fact that I might as well have taken £300 out of my account and set it on fire :'(

    Reading your article makes me want to slap myself around the face, pull up my socks and ride this own out (literally). Trying to focus on the positives that being without money will make me truly realise its worth, and that after these next two months are over I will continue to act and spend as though I was still in the same debt resulting in a healthy bank account and able to begin to pay my Dad back by the summer. And have a super pony too…

    But im not sure if this is the right path to take OR even if it will pan out half as much as I hope it will :/

    Im such a bad person. I cant seem to stop acting selfishly

    • Dear Megan — you’re not a bad person. NOT AT ALL! So put that out of your mind. You obviouslyhave a problem with impulse control which leads to over-spending. This is not just about trying to use willpower to stop the behavior, you need to better tools than that. Here are a few suggestions that Might help: First — it’s time to make it IMPOSSIBLE for yourself to overspend — cut the cards, maybe even put your finances in trusted person’s hands so you can’t get to it. Stop hiding the problem: Be honest with friends that this isn’t a little problem for you, it’s a big one. Once you own the issue, you’ll find people who really care won’t let you enter into financial deals or spend money on holidays that you truly can’t afford. Be brave an honest — forget about being embarrassed — people who care about you will support you, and the others shouldn’t be in your life anyway. Second — I’m not a therapist, but what you’ve described here might be more aligned with compulsive behavior and maybe even an addiction and not just a shortage of willpower. You don’t JUST need to stop overspending, you need bonafide therapeutic or spiritual intervention to help you break the pattern and establish new empowering, positive patterns in which you exercise financial control. Don’t go this alone anymore — seek expert help! Are you following Kate Northrup’s work online? If not, start now! But she’s just one resource out there, you need to trade all the time and effort you’re using to beat yourself up to instead start researching the issue and finding techniques for permanent change that can work for you. A therapist might be in order, or a spiritual advisor if you prefer that route. Bottom-line: If you could have stopped overspending without outside help or new behavior modification tools, you would have by now. It’s time to get out of the “spend now and admonish myself later” cycle and start working on a new plan to get help to change your behavior. Kicking yourself for the spending gaps won’t change the behavior … do your homework. Ask for help. Alert your close family and friends that your problem has become bigger than you, and you need their support in not asking you to participate in things you can’t afford. Right now you’re thinking about a pony and the money you owe dad. The issue is much bigger … focus on addressing that, and your life will change for the better. Being willing to release old habits and embrace new ones is the first step. Getting help from experts, therapists, family, friends, support groups and more is the way to make a real change. Wishing you the very best … you CAN change your life for the better. Do it now so this doesn’t become a lifelong struggle for you! Sending love and prayers your way – J. Marie

  11. Omg I have to share this I been making the same mistake off getting drunk n not knowing wat I’m doing I don’t even no how I get home n my husband is not really soportive I had a drug problem with I already left but noe is the drinking I don’t have a mom so I think I’m like this I don’t want to be this person being drunk acting stupid I’m so embarrassed but this page help n noe I can get some sleep it has to be the last time I need a free counceler?

      • I have hurt two people at once with my mistake. A family member who pressured me to make a secondary mistake that hurt a friend who is now not been speaking to me. I’m stuck right now. I instantly made the effort to correct my mistake, own it and learn from it but the people that were hurt are still making me feel miserable. Meanwhile my mistake was to invite my friend to come at the same time and place as my family (who live far away) since she was already planning to go to the same state in the same month to visit her family. I didn’t check that it was okay with my family first. And I told them what I did because it was too late to ask. My sister felt manipulated and deeply hurt. My sister, as a way of fixing what I did, wanted me to make sure my friend was able to change their reservation. I frantically fumbled to do all I could to do right by my sister and uninvited my friend. She is very hurt and I am making her look forward to anxiety during a time that was meant to be really fun. I handled it so poorly, but in the only way I thought my sister would be satisfied. I am still not sure I should go, bit not going means myself and my children missing out on my nephew and my new nieces and brother in law. I don’t know if I can do that.

  12. Hi J Marie
    Your post is great and I do note much of what you say but what if your terrible mistake affects someone you love?
    I think I have made a massive mistake that’s hurt my brother in his career on a massive scale (by accidentally saying the wrong thing to a mutual acquaintance when in retrospect he asked me not to say anything but I’d forgotten that part) and it could not only have cost him hugely in lost business but also could have scuppered a host of other things too). I am too frightened to confess what I have done because if it is as bad as I think it is it could ruin him and will cause him huge stress and possibly irretrievable professional embarrassment. I can’t bear the thought of hurting him but also selfishly, I don’t have many people in my life and I can’t bear the thought of losing him either.
    It’s eating me up and affecting my daily life and relationships with all my family as I can’t bear to see them with this guilty secret and they will know something is wrong. I am trying to summon up the courage to tell him but I just can’t. Pls help. I’m on the verge of thinking I need to leave the country and be out of their lives altogether. I feel such a coward. It might all come out anyway but then it might not. It might be something he can deal with or it might not. I’m so frightened and alone.

    • Amy — I sense the enormity of the weight you are bearing. To fear you’ve hurt someone so badly is a big burden to bear. I could tell you what to do, but I believe in your heart you already know what you must do … which most likely is to face it in some way rather than run away. Your fear will cripple you from taking any positive action here. Try sitting in silence, asking the Universe (or your Higher Power of choice) to guide you on your best course of action. As you sit in silence, release the urge to allow your chattering mind to yammer on and on. When you “let the mud settle” in your mind, there you where find clarity. You may have to repeat this process over the course of days to get the clarity you need to feel confident about the direction that’s best for you here. Chances are, the scenario you’ve described in your post here is the absolute worst scenario about how the mistake you made could impact this could impact your brother … so while damage may have been done, it might not be as bad as you’re imagining. You know that in time you need to talk to your brother about this … you just need to find the way and the words to do this, and the way in which you can help “fix” or “repair” whatever it is that will need fixing or repairing here. Take heart in that your intention was NEVER to hurt your brother — he will see your sincerity and love, even if he does get angry at your action. Time in stillness will help you. As for the urge to run away — that’s normal, but don’t give into it. The suffering you carry now would just intensify. You’re strong and brave enough to handle this situation. Have faith in yourself and do what you know you must do. I’ll be praying for you and your brother at this difficult time. ~ J. Marie

  13. I made a big mistake. Me and my husband are relocating abroad. So I have been very busy and stressed out with selling things, packaging things, paper work, bank work and never ending list of tasks. While sorting through his files I found out some old answer sheet, report cards and drawings of his pre nursery and kinder garten school. I thought those are not so important and threw them away. And he is mad at me saying I have thrown away the most precious memories of his life. And he can never forgive me for this. He started banging amd throwing things at home with his anger. I am not able to think what am I supposed to do. How do I make him feel that I am sorry for doing this? I cant bring back what is gone, but my intention was not to hurt him. Wat to do? Please advice.

    • Mickey — It’s always difficult when we do something that upsets someone we love. But in what you’ve written here, NOTHING you did was to deliberately hurt your spouse … you made a judgment call that he wouldn’t have made. You did not intend to hurt him. You had no way of knowing that these things had such extreme sentimental value for him. You’ve apologized sincerely. Now it’s time for your spouse to accept the apology. Frankly, while I can empathize that in his mind he’s lost treasured items, his reaction of banging things and throwing things seems like a tantrum that a child would throw. It makes me wonder if that’s just how he’s wired … rather … if this is just the way he responds to anything that upsets him in life. Know that you can’t change another person. You are not responsible for how anyone else acts. You can only reiterate that you’re sorry. Let yourself off the hook for this, even if he chooses not to.

      Hope this helps. Wishing you love, J. Marie

  14. I made an awful mistake – huge – I had a big fight with my boyfriend after too many drinks and a bad day… He said something horrible to me and I lost my temper and slapped him across the face. I feel horrendous. I didn’t even realise what I had done before it was too late. I burst into tears and apologised immediately but he didn’t want to even look at me. He slept in another room, left this morning without saying goodbye and now isn’t talking to me.

    I sent an apology card and a small gift to his workplace, I’m not sure if it will help but I felt like I had to do something. I adore him and I genuinely didn’t mean to react like I did. The guilt and the shame is eating me alive 🙁 I don’t know how I am supposed to forgive myself for this. I may lose the man I love because of this stupid horrible thing that I did.

    • Laura – It’s so very hard when we’ve made a mistake that involves hurting another person. The important thing is that you’ve realized you were at error and you’re reaching out to make amends. Some “cool off” time might be needed before you’re able to sit down with him calmly and gently to discuss what happened, why it happened, and how you’ll make sure it never happens again. I’m not a therapist — nor make any claims that I can offer much more than a few encouraging words for you here. Still, I can say that carrying around guilt and shame won’t help the situation. It won’t take what happened back … and it won’t take back the slap or the words that were exchanged (or the fact that the incident happened after too many drinks). If you find that you’re having trouble dealing with stress and/or need more help in being a loving, more gentle partner with strong communication skills … there’s no shame in getting professional help from a therapist or counselor. When life gets too hard and we’re acting out in ways that make it worse, sometimes we need someone to talk to. Only you can know if you’re at that point in your life.

      The only thought I can leave you with here is that instead of focusing on what happened, consider focusing on what you need to do now. You can’t take back the past … you can only reach for better ways to handle the future. I know you’re hurting right now and my heart goes out to you. Wishing you all the best and sending prayers for peace, love and healing to you. – J. Marie

  15. I was babysitting for a family and we have had many conversations about locking up the house which is one thing that I always forget to do. usually when the girls and I leave the house and I forget to lock it up I just s pretend like it never happened. today I had to take the girls to an appointment and as usual I forgot to lock up one detail I forgot is that their mother was coming home early she came home saw that the garage door is not
    Shut and the doors were not locked. It was my fault because we were in such a rush not to be late that I
    forgot to lock up. Their parents were angry and I felt like a complete idiot. No matter how much I apologized I felt like it was just not okay. I have been calling my self names and beating my self up, but I think I finally found a solution to end all this madness.I’ve decided to write an apology letter and return the money that I was paid for my services. But even that doesn’t feel right I still feel upset and still feel like such an idiot!

    • Liz — you made a mistake. You know what that makes you? HUMAN! We all make mistakes. It’s important to keep it in perspective. It’s also important to learn from this.

      It sounds like you made this mistake repeatedly and didn’t get caught. Not sure what you’re most upset over — the fact that you did it or that this time you got caught and the mother got angry with you (an emotion that is understandable in this case). When we make a mistake repeatedly, it really is no longer a mistake but a decision to act in a way that we know isn’t in our best interest. To protect this family and their belongings, locking up is important. You admit this has happened many times before (to quote you “I always forget to do this”), so you had not been taking that obligation seriously.

      Beating yourself up may make you feel like you’re punishing yourself, but it is of NO HELP in this situation. How does it change anything? All you can do is attempt to make amends because you cannot rewind time. Returning their money along with a sincere apology is the best you can do here. They may or may not choose to allow you to watch their kids again — that’s they’re choice. Don’t be angry with them if they choose to move on: gracefully accept that this is the consequences of your actions and be grateful that no one was harmed and belongings weren’t stolen because of your actions. Whether they do allow you to babysit again or not, you MUST LEARN from this.

      It’s not that you just don’t want to be seen as irresponsible again … you want to feel confident and assured that you CAN be totally responsible … because you can be! (Read that sentence again — it was important!)

      Don’t allow yourself to just think “I can’t remember to do this” — instead, figure out HOW you can make sure you ALWAYS secure a property after you leave it from now on. In this case and in all other situations in your life, never allow yourself to say “that’s just me … I have trouble with this.” You’re smart — you can find a way to do whatever you need to do! In this case, find foolproof ways to remind yourself such as: Put a note on your keys. Put a note on the door. Put a note on your car reminding you to double-check the house. Do whatever it takes to never make this mistake again.

      Then forgive yourself. The energy you’re putting into beating yourself isn’t helpful. Name calling is just being a bully — and calling yourself an idiot is being a bully to yourself! Cut it out!

      If you feel compelled to do something more, then find a way to go out and help someone else (could be someone in your family or a total stranger). You’ll find your inner world calms down when you’re doing something constructive and there’s no better way to do this than by reaching out to help someone else in need.

      Remember: learn from this then let it go. You can’t change the past but you can and must take responsibility for doing better today. Take care.

      -J. Marie

      • Your words are really great. I just did the exact big mistake just like i did in the past, and it really turns me down. It is to the extent that i don’t want to see anybody, shut myself alone in my room closing my eyes off all day because i don’t have any power left to do anything. Like I’m having this mental break down because everyone near me has already think bad about me. I want to make up about my mistake but I’m really really afraid to do so or even apologize. And i wished to disappear from this world in an instance. But reading your words made me found my confidence. Thank you very much 🙂

  16. Hey jm.. can i quote some of your lines in this article?? I’m doing something(something like a sermon) for my future reference. I really am glad to read your article because i too, once committed a big mistake. And i can say that up to this day my heart still skips a beat when i remember that foolishness i made. I guess regret and guilt are part of the consequences??ah… thanks anyway.. i appreciate this article.. 🙂 God bless..

    • Jay-Em – sure — feel free to quote away! We all make mistakes — that just makes us human. Thanks for taking the time to leave a note of appreciation for the article. I appreciate you took the time to read it! – J. Marie

  17. It makes sense to forgive and get up right away after you make a mistake but at the same time there are some mistakes there is no running away from and you end up paying for the rest of your life. don’t you think so? Some wrong doings cannot be made right. yes you can move on and try to be positive and go on with your life but it cannot be made right. We as humans are supposed to make mistakes because they teach us and mature us but some people like me never learn and by the time we learn it is too late. Sorry to be a downer but I speak my mind. Some of you might disagree but then you might not have made the mistake I made.

    • Hina — you’re right: I don’t know what mistake you made, nor do I need to know. And, no need to apologize for being a “downer” — the world is not served when we don’t speak up for what we believe to be true. I’m not even going to attempt to convince you that what you’ve said isn’t true. It is no doubt true for you. And, you’re right, no one has walked in your shoes … no one understands exactly where you’re coming from.

      The only thing that I will ask is: how does your lack of forgiveness for yourself help you bring more beauty and love into the world? How does lamenting over a mistake help you “make up for” the mistake?

      Deeds once done cannot be undone. Words once spoken cannot be unspoken. And, yes, there will be consequences to our actions — and some consequences will be severe. That’s a fact.

      You like everyone else CAN learn if you choose to. You’ll still be human — you’ll still make mistakes — but each time you can use the knowledge you gain to do better the next time. To punish yourself eternally holds no purpose — to reach out and offer your light to the world creates more light in the world. It’s truly your choice what you choose to reach for from this day forward. We can all choose to accept grace and move forward with compassion and love for others and ourselves. I believe this is what each of us are called to do. And again, we are human … we slip from time to time. But with practice we get better.

      Sending prayers of peace and love your way. ~ J. Marie

  18. It happened with me last week while working on a store, somebody called me pretending to be Manager calling from Head office, asking me that he is going to update your system and he has spoken to my Manager in this regard. He made me do some transactions on V-Card and told me that they will be reversed later on when the system is updated. I did these transaction amounting to $ 4000/- I may add that just day before, we were briefed by our boss that these sort of fraudelant calls are coming so we have to be careful. But at that time my mind was not working. I do not know what happened to me. Since I was to close my shift at 10 pm I told him so and he said OK it will take about 2 hrs to reverse these entries You can tell the other employee to close your shift once your system is updated. I came home and I went to the store in the morning and then I was told that a fraud of $4000 has been committed. This was mistake, an honest mistake. I said sorry to my boss. He is insisting that I should pay this amount from my pocket which I am unable to pay. Police case has bee lodged. I am feeling very guilty and depressed. Please tell me what to do???

    • Parvinder — I wish I could tell you what to do, but unfortunately, it’s outside the scope of direction I’d feel comfortable offering. One thing I will suggest: listen to what your gut is telling you. It will guide you on how to respond. I’m not an attorney, but I doubt very much that you can be held liable for the missing money … and in fact, your organization may be protected in some way by its bank (this I’m not certain of — but I know that if someone did fraud on my personal CC, I would not be held liable, but the bank would end up taking the loss).

      You’ve made an honest mistake — all you can do is state your case and hope you are believed and that the consequences are not severe. I prayer you’ll find the Divine guidance and strength you need to get through this. Sometimes we’re being redirected in life and it happens through painful episodes like this. Whatever happens, know that in the end, everything will be okay. Bless you.

  19. Did a mistake.Feeling shameful about myself. I hate myself for being this careless and ignorant.
    After I made a mistake,I have corrected it.Everything is fine now, but the very thought that I commited this silly thing gives me a discouraging thought about myself.
    Irresponsible and careless,this is what I am in my and my friends/realtives views now.

    • Ambar — hey now — you made a mistake. Do you know what that makes you? HUMAN! Sometimes they come with consequences and you have to be ready and willing to deal with those — there’s no escaping that, so make amends if amends are in order. But don’t beat yourself up one more moment: that doesn’t accomplish anything other than to keep you down, and my friend, we are not meant to live discouraged and upset. Mistakes are just stepping stones to doing better next time.

      As for what your friends and relatives think of you: what really matters most is how you act AFTER you’ve made a mistake. Act with integrity. Act with humility. Act with a solid determination to do better and a resolve to be responsible going forward. Most likely, your friend and relatives will respect you even more as they see how you’ve grown and improved, but if for some reason they don’t, that really says more about them than you. Because anyone can make a mistake but it takes a person with a lot of character to handle their mistakes gracefully and with courage.

      Wishing you all the best. -J. Marie

  20. I love this, which I will call a good lesson. I believe this lesson of mistakes should be taught at a young age, so I will share this with young people…it’s needed, along with prayer for strength to overcome mistakes. Bless Success!

  21. I just learned about your website and the first article I read was The #1 Thing You Must Do After You Make a Mistake. Man, can I relate. I spent the past 2 1/2 yrs berating and shaming myself for what I had done. You’re right it would not make the top 100 nor did anyone die from it. I took out the equity in our home to pay for our oldest daughter’s college tuition. We would have had the house paid off by now. There I said it. We did not save money for college like we were told to. I tossed and turned for many nights waking up in the middle of the night hyperventilating. I walked around constantly beating myself up feeling worthless. It effect me at work. I was not well centered and ultimatly I think it was led me to down spiral at work causing that job to come to a quick and sudden end. I am better now. But reading your article is going to help be able to move on now. This part really hit home: My old melodramatic reactions to my mistakes never helped me. That was nothing more than habit … a bad habit that can be unlearned.

    I get back up in confidence now in my ability to solve problems and learn from it all. The good the bad and misery.
    Thank you

    • Terresa — thanks so much for sharing your story! We are not alone in doing this — many, many people go down this path. Thankfully, we can learn from the past and do better now. Thanks again for taking the time to write! — J. Marie


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