Dr Jozelle Miller
November 1, 2022
Mistake made… Now what?

As the end of another year draws near, many will be spending a substantial amount of time in reflection and introspection, looking at the successes or failures experienced during the year thus far. For many it will be refreshing as they will view this process as a means of refocusing to finish the year strong or as the precursor to changes needed for the New Year.

For others it may be a daunting process as they may realize that they would have made numerous mistakes along the way, and this can cause emotional distress.

The idea of making a mistake usually comes with fear and anxiety. This very strong anxiety is rooted in the old school of thought of ‘being perfect’ as opposed to ‘striving for perfection’.

This old school of thought would have us believe that, as human beings, our lives are fixed and static rather than flowing and constantly changing. If we do not see ourselves as constantly changing and evolving, making a mistake will always insight fear within. Remember that the process of ‘becoming’ means growth; and forgiveness is an integral ingredient in the process.

Most people try to avoid making mistakes, and some people experience a significant amount of apprehension and anxiety about committing mistakes. We labour over making decisions out of this fear, which tends to paralyse us.

People who struggle with making decisions tend to be avoidant, for the longer they can procrastinate the decision, the more they protect themselves from the illusion of mistakes. Yet, we don’t usually stop to consider exactly what constitutes a mistake.

Generally, a mistake is a decision or an action – or lack thereof – that we fear we’ll come to regret. Mistakes usually cause some degree of pain, loss, or struggle.

Certainly we might agree that we don’t care for the consequences and hence we call it a mistake. The irony is that these events that we try so hard to avoid are sometimes precisely what we need to experience.

Ordinarily, growth doesn’t occur without some of those challenging feelings we try so hard to avoid.

Many times I’ve heard people speak of their failed marriages as mistakes that they terminated in divorce. Yet, without such a difficult experience neither person would have had the opportunity to discover deeper truths about themselves.

There is a personal evolution that occurs when we become accountable for whom we chose to marry. Through the painful experience, there is abundant opportunity to learn and grow. These insights, borne out of what we call mistakes, are necessary for our psychological, emotional and spiritual growth. They are also a fundamental part of our learning process.

How to respond to mistakes made in your life:

It’s okay. You will be okay- Take all the time you need to heal emotionally. Moving on doesn’t take a day; it takes lots of little steps to be able to break free of your broken self. Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life. Just because today is painful doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be great.

There is no success without the possibility of failure:

A person who makes no mistakes is unlikely to make anything at all. It’s better to have a life full of small failures that you learned from, rather than a lifetime filled with the regrets of never trying.

Positive thinking creates positive results:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Being hurt is something you can’t stop from happening, but being miserable is always your choice. Winston Churchill reminds us, “Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. Negative thinking creates negative results. Positive thinking creates positive results.

Success is always closer than it seems:

Your mistakes and failures should be your motivation, not your excuse. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake. Failure is not falling down; failure is staying down when you have the choice to get back up.

You are not your mistakes:

Life didn’t come with instructions. Accept that mistakes will happen. You are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your tomorrow. No matter how chaotic the past has been, the future is a clean, fresh, wide open slate.

Life’s best lessons are learned at unexpected times:
Many of the greatest lessons we learn in life we don’t seek on purpose. In fact, life’s best lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.

Mistakes are rarely as bad as they seem:

Mistakes and setbacks are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger. You should never let one dark cloud cover the entire sky. The sun is always shining on some part of your life. Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward.

Not getting what you want can be a blessing:

Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck, because it forces you to reevaluate things, opening new doors to opportunities and information you would have otherwise overlooked. Remember, some things in life fall apart so that better things can fall together.

You have the capacity to create your own happiness:

You can hold onto past mistakes, or you can create your own happiness going forward. A smile is a choice, not a miracle. Don’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along and make you happy. True happiness comes from within. Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.

Mistakes are simply a form of practice:

Every great artist was once an amateur. The sooner you get comfortable with practising and making mistakes, the quicker you’ll learn the skills and knowledge necessary to master your art. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. So, get out there and try again. Either you succeed or you learn a vital lesson.

Remember life goes on. Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later this collection of mistakes, called experience, leads us to success. If it’s good, it’s going to be wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s going to be an experience. Your mindset is at the heart of your success so forgive yourself and others and keep moving forward.