There’s no other feeling like it. A churn in the stomach, a racing head and a wish that you could turn back the clock. Before you know it, you’re falling in a hole of ‘what if’s’ and going over the choices you could have made instead. With all of the decisions we make on a daily basis, there are bound to be a few that we can file under “what was I thinking?” But it’s how we deal with making mistakes that can make or break us.
Our life is full of mini mistakes – as a child we lie to get out of trouble, as a teen we make mistakes in haste (and from hormones!) but when you become an adult suddenly there’s a preconceived notion that you should know better. Mistakes are suddenly harder to forgive, both from yourself and others around you as expectations heighten and tolerances lower. But, as shit starts to get more serious and choices are bountiful, isn’t this the time to be the most forgiving of all? And if we can’t forgive ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?
At a time when life is busy and decisions have to be as quick as the world around us, this is why we should remember that we’re only human and it’s OK to make mistakes.
YOU’LL GROW AS A PERSON
It’s a common misconception that growing up is a numbers game. With every birthday we’re supposed to be a little bit wiser but time has no bearing on who you are as a person. It’s the decisions we make and how we deal with the consequences that ultimately shape who we are.
The truth is, we all f*** up from time to time, choose a path that we shouldn’t have taken or make a decision that might not have been the best but with every mistake we make, it impacts our future self, how we navigate our way through life and the next decision we make. It makes us more empathetic, open-minded and non-judgemental. Who wouldn’t want to be that person?
With every mistake we make, there’s an internal dialogue that comes with it – the why’s and the what now’s – but it’s these conversations that allow us to get to know ourselves better and become all the stronger for it.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
If there was ever a time for a well-place cliche, it’s now! While there may be that sinking stomach feeling at the time, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it will teach you a lot. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. Don’t get me wrong it will 100% not feel like that at the time, but there’s a chain of events in everyone’s lives that lead on to other pathways laid out for us. It’s not religious or even philosophical but a hope that it’s all part of a bigger plan.
Be confident in the decision you once believed to be the right one and don’t let it distort what is to come next. You never know, it may have been clearing the way for something amazing coming your way. Ok, that may sound a bit like a horoscope but 9/10 the mistakes I’ve made have led me to exactly where I need to be.
YOU’LL GIVE THE BEST ADVICE
It sounds ironic but those who have had a colourful life, a variety of experiences and especially those who have made mistakes give the best advice. If you’ve made some regretful decisions, your perspective on situations and of people is completely different to those who haven’t made mistakes. We learn the most about ourselves when we’ve worked through self reflection and acceptance which puts us on a higher level of empathy for other people.
Not only can you draw from your own experiences, you’re more ‘qualified’ to give unbiased advice without judgement or agenda. And that, makes for a very good girlfriend to call when the shit hits the fan!
YOU LEARN FROM THEM
There are typically four steps to a mistake – making it, accepting it, reflecting on it and moving on from it. A lot of us get stuck on the accepting and moving on bit but those are the most important steps to turn something negative into a positive. With every mistake we make, learning from it is what makes you grow as a person that we talked about earlier.
Hating on yourself is only natural for a period of time but what we have to remember is that we’re only human, there’s no rule book or guide to being the perfect person, we do the best we can but the take-home is how you move on from it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, some big, some small, some in work, family or relationships and the positive element of them all is that I learnt from every single one of them. I understand why I made each of those decisions and while, I couldn’t imagine making them again, that’s the whole point to making them in the first place. You live and learn.
Unfortunately we live in a time where we beat ourselves up a lot. Call it stress, pressure, the comparison game, whatever the reason, if there’s an opportunity to come down hard on ourselves, we’ll take it. But it has to be put into perspective. Giving ourselves a talking to and checking ourselves when we make a mistake has its place – it’s what keeps us on the straight and narrow. But there comes a time where we have to stop, forgive ourselves and move on. And if there are those who won’t let you do that then unfortunately they aren’t the right people to surround yourself with.
The older I get the more I don’t believe in regrets, I think we do the best we can at every given moment. While we may look back and kick ourselves for the mistakes we made, we have to remember that where our head was at that time may not be where it is now. So cut yourself some slack, we’re only human and we have plenty of mistakes to make in our future but with every one, both big and small, we become a little bit more skilled in handling them.
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