Mistakes are a normal, important and necessary part of life.
Say this to yourself out loud. Write it down. Sing it. Yell it. Whisper it. Paint it. Whatever must be done to help you ponder on and accept this statement.
The most challenging part of a mistake is the ripple effect. The consequences of our mistakes most often ripple outward damaging our relationships with others. Once other people get involved our attitude changes and the event or events play over and over in our mind as we try to come up with a different outcome or reasons why we should not be accountable for what has happened. We make a wish list of “should have” and “wish I hadn’t” . We might even become angry and try to put the blame on everyone else.
Obsessing in this way burns these memories into our minds – and it’s likely they’ve been dramatized a bit. So how do we deal with the ripple effect of our mistakes?
Accept that time travel is not possible and Focus on the Future.
Unfortunately, there are still a few kinks to be worked out before we are able to travel back in time.Once you accept this you are well on your way to putting grievances where they belong: in the past.
Accepting your mistakes and moving forward takes time. Don’t get upset or depressed by that -accept it…Respect yourself enough to appreciate where you are in this course correction. Take humble pride in the fact that you are trying to course correct at all.The fact that you are trying is good for you and for the people you associate with.
Focus on what can be done going forward rather than obsessing about what you wish you had done. As was said earlier, obsessing burns negatively-skewed memories into our minds that are likely exaggerated versions of what actually happened.
Objectively Recall What Happened
Objectively recall what happened. Do not interpret anything yet. By that I mean do not ask yourself why the mistake was made or what could have been done better when recalling the event. Simply state the facts of the situation with out judgment.
It might help to talk it out with some one who you believe can help you to see the situation with little to no bias.
Remember Your Goodness
When we make a bad decision the consequences tend to ripple out and damage relationships. Here are some ideas on how to deal with that.
Take time – maybe today before bed – to remember the correct and good choices you have made through out your life. Think of people you have helped out or accomplishments that you are proud of.
Write down or talk with someone about all of the positive things you came up with to solidify it in your mind.
Deal with the Ripple Effect
Reflect on the positive aspects of the damaged relationship(s)
Brainstorm what steps you can take to repair any harm done.
Write down or talk with someone about your ideas
When/How to Approach
You will be ready to approach the individual about the mistake you made when you feel relaxed and hopeful about the outcome of the conversation. Keep in mind that it is normal to feel slightly embarrassed at some point in the conversation.
Insecurity and defensiveness are symptoms of being more than just a little embarrassed about your mistake. It is often known as pride. This embarrassment leads us to blame others for the mistake or become too emotional to think clearly. If you are feeling this way repeat the previous ideas shared and wait to talk about it until you feel more calm.
In the meantime, when you see this individual remain cordial and kind. If they bring up the situation with you listen to what they have to say, even if you’re not ready to talk about it. Remember this is just as much about them as it is about you.
Express appreciation for their desire to come and talk with you and let them know that the situation has been on your mind. Explain that you still have some things to think about before you’re ready to discuss the issue further.
What to Do When Moving on is the Best Option
In some instances it is best to accept that the relationship is not going to progress past the damage done. In that scenario you can :
Write a letter to them that you never send with everything you think and feel about the situation. Put it in a bottle and throw it in the ocean. Or if you’d like to go the more earth-friendly route burn the letter or bury the letter. Paper is biodegradable.
Remove them from your life entirely by blocking them on social media and deleting their information from your phone. This would be appropriate in a situation where the person refuses to join you in repairing the relationship,speaks negatively about you and to you. Sometimes a little distance and time can lead to a positive relationship in the future.
Make new friends
If you see them around remain cordial and kind. There is no need to avoid or to engage in a conversation. A simple “Hello” meets the cordial and kind criteria.
Continue building and enjoying the relationships you have
Decade Old Mistakes
Some mistakes happened so long ago that the only person who is thinking about them is you. If you suspect that the other person is still hurting reaching out is appropriate. But if you know that they have forgotten about it- than you should try to do the same.
One way to do that is by making new memories with the individual or refocusing your mental energy on those with whom you already associate.
Gay Pedersen, a poet, daughter, sister, mom and “gramma”shares her experience about coming to term with her mistakes.
It is Enough
I am imperfect. I have sinned. I have met with failure…..
I’ve anguished over my shortcomings
And wept over my inadequacy .
As a mother
And as a grandmother
I have significant limitations
In my quest to be the “best gramma ever”.
I am unable to create incomparable, unforgettable events
For my grandchildren
Or offer them world’s of unceasing magical wonder and fun.
Sometimes when they laugh and play
I am confined to the role of observer rather than participant.
They do enjoy sitting on my lap
For wheelchair rides when my strength is good.
I can’t go back and repair the mistakes
I made with their parents (who I love unconditionally and forever)
Or protect them from other imperfect people and ideas swirling around them
But hopefully in life
When the bottom falls out
I can be a soft place to land.
I can listen to them.
I can express my love for and pride in them every day.
I can remind them that they are magnificent and eternal
And children of a God.
These simple gifts are given me by my Maker
To lavish upon my little ones.
I am grateful
But God forgive me
I harbor a quiet longing
To be more.
Yet when I approach Him
He sends a sunrise kind of calm.
He smiles and reminds me of the covenant design
He has asked of my life
Knowing full well the burdens He has laid upon my shoulders.
His words emerge, a balm of peace
“You have given your all. It is enough.
It is enough.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa Thurm studied organized communication/conflict management, public relations, and parental/educational psychology at Brigham Young University Idaho and graduated in 2014. She currently works as a public relations specialist and marketing assistant at Mikarose.