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.
Remember these 7 lessons whenever you make a mistake …
The top lessons of what NOT to do include:
- Do not shame yourself.
- Do not judge yourself.
- Do not berate yourself.
- Do not make the situation bigger than it is.
- Do not keep secrets from people who love you.
- Do not focus on the negatives instead of the lessons learned.
- Do not assume the mistake discounts your intelligence or worth in any way – it does not.
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.