Turning Your Mistakes to Lessons


I started my first blog when I was 17. Now 10 years and many blogs later, I'm here. Occupying this space. This morning I was reminded of a post I wrote on one of my former short-lived blog sites, Polished Perceptions. Though my tone and passion for personal development is much different (in a progressive way), this post is still incredibly relevant – and hopefully helpful. I couldn't help but share it here, too. So here goes...
We all make mistakes. Yes, me, you and you. If you tell me you’ve never made a mistake, I’d automatically assume you were a liar. And well lying is a mistake in itself, because one day you’ll get caught. So, let me just add you to the “people who make mistakes list” right now. The point is we’ve all done something we had no business doing; we all made a decision we probably shouldn’t have; and we’ve all played a part in ruining something in our own lives. 

While some of us tend to focus on the negative aspects of our mistakes – beating ourselves up about what could have been avoided – the rest of us are figuring out ways to convert those mistakes, into lessons. I used to beat myself up, until I found that that same energy could go toward better. So for those who haven’t yet gotten to that point, let me help you figure out how to turn your mistakes, into lessons.

Analyze why it happened.

Before you crossed that bridge and entered into I Made a Mistakeville, there was something that lingered within you. Maybe it was a multiple choice decision you had to make, or a split moment phone call that you needed to pick up. Perhaps it was an open-ended question that had to be answered, or a response from God on what to do next that you missed because you were too busy. Whatever it may have been that led you to where you are now, analyze it. Figure out how you got to the very place you’re standing in, with your head hanging low and regret on your heart. Figure out what you missed, what you rushed and who you trusted. Get to the root of it, identify it and accept it.

Consider ways it may have been beneficial.

You know the popular saying “everything happens for a reason”. My spirituality forces me to believe that because I know my perfect God makes no mistakes. It is so important, whether you believe in a higher being or not, to look at the bright side in every situation you enter in. So what you forgot to get gas on your way to work, and while sitting in traffic your car ran out; at least the traffic was so bad, you were able to walk across the highway and to the nearest exit without have to play Frogger with your life, and while you were walking to the gas station, you seen a family member you hadn’t seen in years and have now reconnected. So what you accidentally deleted chapter 4 of your thesis, and don’t have any of the previous information backed up; Chapter 4 is your results chapter, and all you have to do is re-analyze (that's a true story). Maybe you’ll find even more significant findings this time around. So what you ‘wasted’ 3 years of your life dating the wrong man and now you’re just not sure how to get your life back; at least you are now out of that situation and can take this time to enjoy the beauty of the world you may have missed during those years; in fact, you wouldn’t even notice the beauty if you hadn’t been held captive all this time. There is a reason for everything we face. The best thing to do during (and after) a mistake, is to figure out the bright side of our situation, and embrace it.

Lastly, think of ways to avoid this from happening again.

A lesson truly isn’t a lesson if you don’t actually learn from it, right? You can’t say you learned what 2+2 is, if your answer continues to be 1. In the midst of your mistakes, you must take time to figure out ways to avoid this from happening again. Maybe you’ll start going to the gas station when your car gets to a quarter tank, instead of when it’s lingering on E. Maybe, you’ll start to save your documents more frequently to avoid losing your progress. And maybe, you’ll have a more vigorous dating process the next time around. The lesson truly is, figuring out how not to get to that place again; how not to make the same mistake twice.

All of these things require thought. They do not require you to talk down to yourself, beat yourself up or be regretful – they require careful contemplation. It’s okay to be upset, but do not let it consume so much of your time that you forget to do these three things. Learn from what you’ve gone through, so you could avoid it next time.

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