Understanding and Overcoming Your Mistakes
We all make mistakes at one time or another. Mistakes are a natural part of life that everyone experiences, and we can often learn and grow from our mistakes. However, some mistakes we make are harder to overcome – they have a more substantial impact that hurts others as well as ourselves and we can become obsessive about ‘beating ourselves up’ about what we have done. In situations like these, we can find it hard to forgive ourselves for causing this unintended hurt to those we care about. If left alone, these feelings in time can lead to long-lasting self-deprecation. As a therapist, I understand the importance of acknowledging when you have done something wrong, but it is even more important to accept our mistakes and to learn from them to ultimately move on. Holding on to feelings of self-hate only leads to more issues in the long run.
Read on to learn more about how mistakes can impact yourself and others, but also how to recognise that these are accidents. Looking into how therapy can help you, and how counsellors themselves can make mistakes, I hope to help you identify the importance of letting go of situations like these and the associated negative emotions.
Don’t Condemn Yourself
When we make a mistake that impacts people apart from ourselves, whether you let something slip that you really shouldn’t have, made a wrong call at work, or said something you didn’t fully think through or understand would cause upset or embarrassment, we can often condemn ourselves straight away. Even if it is something like forgetting to wash a suit for a meeting you have or being late with the family dinner, the negative voice floating in our heads can cause self-hatred and make us focus on these mistakes for much longer than necessary.
Condemning and blaming yourself for getting things wrong can only lead to self-deprecation and further reinforce these negative feelings towards yourself. In the long-run, not changing these perceptions or addressing them with a therapist can lead to issues that draw you away from society and make daily living a miserable task. You need to stop the voice in your head now before it is too late and realise mistakes are just that – mistakes.
Talk to the People Affected
When our mistakes impact another person’s life, it can make it hard for us to overcome them and forgive ourselves for the damage we have caused. One way to address and overcome the mistake is to talk to those you may have unintentionally hurt. Often, if it is a friend or family, it isn’t hard to speak to them and apologise for what happened. Because they love you, they want you to be happy and will understand there was no malicious intent behind your words or actions. If you told a secret that has caused embarrassment or hurt to a friend, you can talk to them about how and why this happened and that this was a mistake as you didn’t fully understand the hurt that it would bring them. In a situation like this, you can then speak to the other person and explain to them what you said is meant to remain a secret to prevent further harm to your friend. Ultimately, you cannot take back what has been said. You need to accept this, say sorry for the hurt you’ve caused, but then move on. Make a conscious decision to learn from this mistake and not to let it happen again.
However, there may be times we accidentally hurt someone who doesn’t want to listen to our apologies and instead believe what we did was on purpose. There are only so many times we can try and communicate with someone before we have to let go. It isn’t your fault that they view the situation as they do, and you can’t blame yourself for it either. Sometimes we have to learn to let go and move on from these people.
Learn from Your Mistakes
The best way to understand and overcome your mistakes is to learn from them. If you made a mistake because you were rushing in the morning and forgot to do something for your wife or kids, then you can recognise that you need to organise your life a little more. Look back at what went wrong and say, ‘I need to change this aspect of my life’. Setting your alarm that little earlier or getting an extra hour in bed the night before can make you more awake and prepared for the day.
Another example is if you say something at the wrong time or to the wrong people, which can leave yourself or others embarrassed or feeling awkward. It’s an innocent mistake as you might have only spoken out of nerves or fear of silence, but it presents an opportunity to learn. You can remind yourself to think more before you talk and prepare little topics of conversation before attending an event, so you don’t say something you’re not meant to.
There are, of course, more significant mistakes people can make that have a larger impact on your life and those around you. Understanding and overcoming these effectively to turn them into a learning experience may be more difficult if you haven’t addressed the self-hate that comes along with mistakes. Seeking outside help from a therapist could be beneficial as they provide an outsider perspective laced with experience and expertise that can help tackle your mental health issues.
Even Your Therapist Makes Mistakes
Everyone in the world makes mistakes. You might think you know someone who is perfect and couldn’t do anything wrong, but even they will make mistakes behind closed doors. Even therapists can make mistakes, something you might not witness, but knowing this before you go into your sessions can help you understand it is ok that you are not perfect, and you have problems that need some help.
If you think you are talking to someone who can’t make their own mistakes, this might make you feel isolated and like they can’t help you. Whether or not they are small accidents or something with a more tremendous impact, therapists will have gone through similar situations as yourself, and this helps them understand you and your concerns better. However, don’t let others’ mistakes legitimise your right to get things wrong, as there are ways to work on preventing errors as well as understanding and apologising for them when necessary. The best thing is to be open and honest about the mistakes you have made with both your therapist and yourself, so that you can undergo sessions specific to these issues.
Don’t hold onto your mistakes and let them affect your mental health. By seeing a therapist, you can understand and overcome the impact your accident has had and work to create recognition of how you can prevent some of these in the future. Mistakes won’t stop happening but understanding how to handle them can help make your and others’ reactions more forgiving and positive. To learn more about my services, feel free to contact me today.