how to make the most out of your mistakesThere’s no escaping it any more, things went wrong and it was your fault. You made the decision that sent everything off course. You didn’t see this coming and, as much as you wish you had, all you can do now is face the unpredictable nature of reality and take responsibility.

And it’s not easy. But you’re a good person. So instead of ignoring it, instead of wallowing in self-pity, instead of pushing the blame onto someone else, you are going to learn from this.

You are going to use this goof to better yourself, to improve your life and to make sure this doesn’t happen again.


In order to learn anything from this, you need to be able to reflect logically on what has happened. Your emotions are useful because they have alerted you to a problem. But if you linger on them for too long, they cloud your judgement. Think back over your mistake with a clear mind. Establish a linear series of events completely regardless of your feelings, so you can consider them objectively. Look only at what happened. Moving on and accepting responsibility is about forgetting whatever petty emotion drove you to your bad decision.


You can’t do much about anyone else’s behaviour, so focus primarily on the decision you made in this whole mess. It’s all very well knowing that something went wrong, but now you need to figure out what. Look over every choice you made and try to identify the one that turned things downhill. It may be that you made a series of bad decisions and just didn’t realise it until now. Reflect now on exactly which move – or moves – you made that went bad. Once you know at which precise point things started to turn, it’ll be easier to recognise that change in future and be on your guard.


Whatever you did, there was some kind of logic behind it. At the time, you had a reason to make that decision. You didn’t imagine it would end up like this. Think back over that reasoning. Examine the thought process behind the bad choices. Consider the flaw in your forethought. It’ll give you a clearer understanding of how you, personally, brought yourself to this point. If you can clearly comprehend how you went wrong, it’ll be easier to notice when you’re at risk of doing it again and stop yourself.


All of this reflection is only going to make you feel worse if you’re not prepared to move on. If you’re only going to dwell on the problems, without accepting their place in the past, you’ll never be able to grow. Remember that you don’t have to judge yourself or punish yourself for your one little mistake. Accept that you, like everyone around you, are a fallible, imperfect human being. Bad things have happened, as bad things do. And you are mature enough to own up to your blunder and to take on the consequences. Know that no matter what misfortune occurs, it will be left in the past as long as you make this effort to keep it out of the future.


The worst thing you can do now, after all this hard, painful thought, is to forget it all. Find a way to take what you have learned from your reflections and keep them in mind. It’s great that you know this now, but it will only be of real value if you can remember it next time you’re in similar situation. If you have to write it down and keep it where you can see it, do that. If you have to ask a friend to keep an eye out for you, do that. Or do both. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get caught up in this mistake over and over again.

You are capable of much, much better than that.

You are intelligent enough to reflect.

And learn.

And grow.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.