In my opinion, the purpose of mistakes is to challenge and teach us even if we have to learn some lessons the hard way. Also important is that we learn from the mistakes of others. We shouldn’t overlook the mishaps of others and assume we may never find ourselves in such situations. In order to learn from others’ mistakes, you have to observe and explore the consequences of their mistakes.
A major step towards avoiding a repeat of the same error is admitting our wrongdoing. Mrs Elizabeth Harrell said after her 20-year marriage ended, she was forced to look back and she realised her own mistakes that had contributed to the breakup. “Feelings of deep neglect and a sense of losing part of my life in an unhealthy relationship prompted me to avoid seeing my role in the dissolution of the relationship. “
At some point, I began to understand how I had contributed. No one pointed out my issues, not even my ex-husband. Examining my heart as unemotionally as possible allowed me to expose my mistakes which surely contributed to the marriage ending. The point is I had to admit my mistakes before I could learn from them.”
Another way to correct our mistakes is by visualising a different outcome given a different circumstance. “I went into a business deal with two friends of mine and the business failed,” said Ikenna Ihieme. Each of us contributed and each of us failed. But there was a lesson in it for me. The first thing that came to my mind was don’t go into business with friends. This notion didn’t quite go well with me because I had had previous and long-running business deals with friends that didn’t fail at all.”
“Reflecting further, I began to imagine and visualise how the business could’ve succeeded, otherwise planned. I began by itemising my own contributions to the failure and then examined how our combined efforts resulted in serious errors. Next, I situated the business in a different interactive setting with better team work and decision-making which I believe would have given us a more productive result. Rather than crying over spilled milk, I used this realisation to improve my new business relationship. It has remained intact. I get to experience the positive results by applying what I learned based on my previous mistakes.”
Remedying what can be remedied is another way to avoid mistake repetitions. Sometimes, we make more mistakes than we are willing to admit. This could be a pretty dangerous way to go. Even when there is an opportunity to fix some of the errors, because we have refused to admit our mistakes, we are not likely to see such an opportunity. If you need to apologise for something you have done wrong, please do so. Don’t blame it on the next person or on the situation surrounding the incidence. Remedy your error as soon as the opportunity presents itself and save yourself from further disaster.
When you make a mistake, it is important that you do not stay obsessed and wallow in it. Even if you were at complete and utter fault, if you can’t change the situation, deal with it as best as you can and move on. When you obsess over it, you are more likely to make future mistakes in your distraction.
Writing about your mistakes and those of others, according to Harrell, can help you to learn from them. “I keep a journal that not only chronicles my mistakes, but also expresses how I felt during and after the process. Often, situations and people’s reactions to me seem clearer and easier to understand when I write them down. It’s also possible to write down thoughts that are uncomfortable for me to initially verbalise.”
Citing an example, she said, “My friend says he often needs time to process information in order to make decisions. I tend to be impatient and although I started out on my best behaviour, it wasn’t too long before I demanded a decision that he didn’t want to make at that exact moment. My demand almost ended our relationship. His response hurt my feelings and I took to my journal. Initially, I dealt with how he had hurt me, but as I continued, I soon realised that my mistake was pushing him.”
As the saying goes, only a fool makes the same mistake twice; don’t be that fool!