As human beings, we are inherently flawed by our very nature. We are destined to make some choices along the way that end up being the wrong ones; these include big hiccups as well as the minuscule parts of the day to day life. In fact, there will be few, if any, days that go by in your life that you will navigate mistake-free.
Some of us tend to dwell on these mistakes after they occur, to the point that they interfere with our personal progress and growth moving forward. Fortunately, another part of our nature is the ability to use mistakes and wrong choices to our benefit when similar situations present themselves in the future.
With all of this in mind, let’s discuss 11 crucial factors of how you can navigate mistakes and frustrations in a way that helps you rather than harms you.
1. Avoiding mistakes leaves you exhausted and drained
Mistakes are a completely unavoidable occurrence, and it is so important to remember that they are OKAY. Although it may seem like making it a mission to avoid messing up at all costs is an effective way to maintain efficiency and fulfillment, this practice is actually a surefire way to leave you exhausted and drained in the motivation department.
Instead, mistakes should be valued and celebrated for the knowledge they provide. When we can understand that mistakes don’t define us, we can embrace the chances they offer us to develop more skills and more knowledge. In doing so, we can continue to mature and learn as we grow.
Therefore, one of the greatest qualities one can possess is the ability to use a mistake as a tool to work in their favor moving forward.
2. Acknowledge your mistakes
The worst thing one can do after making a mistake is to refuse to accept accountability for it. The most common culprits for this tactic are ego and shame (Garden of Eden story, anyone?).
Human beings have a plethora of self-preservation tactics hardwired into our DNA, one of these being our pride. While it can be difficult to own up to your mistake, you absolutely must do so if you are going to forgive yourself and not be hindered any further.
Instead of using all of your energy forcing it to the back of your mind, telling yourself it wasn’t your fault, and hiding your actions from those affected by it, acknowledge the error of your ways. Instead, use this energy to self-evaluate what you should have done in the situation and how you will avoid the same mistake in the future.
3. Avoid negative self-talk
For the vast majority of individuals, the biggest critic does not come in the form of an employer, spouse, or family member. This role is usually played by none other than you. When we mess up or don’t live up to a predetermined expectation in mind, we are often entirely too harsh on ourselves, mentally bringing up the mistake mentally long after anyone else does.
If you are going to forgive yourself truly and move forward in a positive way, speaking to your inner self in a patient, loving way is a necessity.
4. Always adhere to the personal golden rule
“Treat others as you would want to be treated” is a tried and true method when dealing with other people. Ironically, this practice is usually far more challenging to adhere to when it comes to dealing with yourself.
When you have made a mistake, take a second to think of it in terms of “treat yourself as you would want to treat others” instead. Assuming you are making an effort to be a decent human being, chances are you are more than capable of forgiving someone else for a mistake they have made. Imagine what you would tell another person if you were trying to let them know that you forgive their error, that it is not the end of the world. Notice how easy it becomes to forgive yourself when you place your own situation in this context.
Life is far too short to let past choices hold you back from the person you want to become. You are GOING to make mistakes in this life. Forgive yourself, and when you fall, fall forward!
5. Reframe the way you think about making mistakes
A major reason why making mistakes proves to be so frustrating for many people is because of the way making mistakes is typically framed. Society seems to push the narrative that making mistakes is bad and proof of intellectual inferiority.
However, that’s not at all the case. Mistakes are, in fact, a great foundation to build upon, and if we reframe the way we think about making mistakes as a positive, we’ll be able to better manage and cope with it when it happens.
6. Properly channel your emotional responses
Emotions are powerful, and it is a completely normal emotional response to react to mistakes or challenges with frustration, avoidance, and even fear.
However, properly acknowledging and channeling these emotional responses is essential if one aims to grow from the experience. Negative emotions that arise due to mistakes and frustration should be acknowledged, not avoided. Once the feelings have been recognized and released, there is clarity of mind needed to channel those emotions for the good.
Rather than responding with panic and frustration, one can actually learn from the experience of making a mistake or failing and then improve upon their skillset based on what they learned. This learning can be applied to future situations and help one evolve and increase their intelligence.
7. Respond with flexibility and creativity
Continually operating from a place of flexibility and creativity will prepare you to be able to manage mistakes and frustration well. Those who are flexible tend to respond to sudden changes and risks with an optimistic attitude and the ability to adapt to new situations. Those who operate in a continual state of creativity tend to approach unfamiliar or challenging situations with determination and excitement to learn from the experience.
8. Plan ahead
It may seem counterintuitive to say that you should plan ahead after the previous section about being flexible, but it makes sense. Plan to make mistakes. When you enter into a process or situation knowing ahead of time that you may make an error, you won’t overreact when you do. Having planned for such a thing to happen, you’re now emotionally prepared to cope with what has happened and move forward. And in the rare instance that you can execute a plan without any errors, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did much better than you intended to perform.
9. Monitor how others are responding to your mistake
Using people around you, specifically how they respond to a mistake you have made, can serve as an excellent gauge of how well you are learning from your mistakes. Unfortunately, not all people do a very good job of forgiving others when they have messed up.
However, the majority of individuals have the capacity to forgive someone for the occasional mistake, especially if they are a first time offender. After you have made a mistake, be careful to monitor how those around you handle the situation. Are they quick to forgive and encourage you, or does it seem as if they are annoyed and tired of turning the other cheek.
If you observe the latter, there is a good chance you are failing to acknowledge a mistake you are routinely making in your life. This method tends to provide excellent feedback to the question posed in the title of this article.
10. Evaluate the predicaments you find yourself in
Often in the hectic schedules we are expected to manage, it can be hard to separate individual unfavorable circumstances we find ourselves in. During these situations, most of us rarely take the time to analyze the exact cause and path that led to the situation.
Moving forward, really try to evaluate the next predicament you find yourself in (at work, home, etc.) and ask yourself if this seems to be a recurring theme. If you can do this, there is a good chance you will start to connect similar occurrences of this nature, and hopefully be able to pinpoint exactly what you did to end up there.
11. Analyze if you’re stagnant in certain areas of your life
A telltale sign that you are not learning from your mistakes is a lack of progression, or even regression, in an area of your life. Make an effort to compartmentalize the various facets of who you are (at work, in your relationships, with your children). Ask yourself if these components in your life are progressing, growing, and blossoming in an upward trend, or do they seem to be stuck in a cyclical routine of the same nature.
It is especially important to notice if they are deteriorating, an even more damaging direction. With each of these facets listed, you are undoubtedly going to mess up and make mistakes from time to time. However, if you find these components to be chronically unchanging or regressing, there is a good chance you have failed to identify the error of your ways.
Every person is bound to make a mistake or experience frustration at some point within their lives, with many people making mistakes and facing failure on a pretty regular basis. The two are part of life, but the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and to navigate them properly.
So while it’s completely acceptable to mess up and get off track from time to time, it is not okay to continuously do so in the same manner. Make sure to monitor individual events in your life to avoid falling into the habit of making the same mistakes repeatedly. Otherwise, you run the risk of those mistakes and frustrations defining you and overtaking you.