You can't change or erase what happened in the past, all you can change is your attitude toward it.
Mistake in life is not to be taken lightly. For some, one small mistake could define who they are and enslave our lives in an unending quest to redeem or fix the mistake that he or she has done in the past. So let’s first begin by understanding what mistake is and how it affects our happiness.
Understanding the Nature of Life Mistake
1. Mistake is like a ghost.
When we do not reconcile or do not know how to reconcile with our mistake, the mistake becomes an open loop which endlessly haunts our lives. The more we wish to not think about our mistake, the more our minds irresistibly wander back to the mistake to relive it. Even though that particular mistake might have happened many years ago, or you might be at work or in the middle of a party, our mistake will not rest or give us a break. It will continue to enter into our conscious mind to remind us of its presence.
2. The mistake itself is not what makes us unhappy. It’s our attitude towards it that makes us unhappy.
Mistake is fueled by our biases toward it. The more we resist, avoid, hide, deny, blame, bend, or twist the reality of our mistake the more powerful it becomes in our lives. It draws power from our desire to not accept or come to term with it. The feeling of guilt, depression, anger, frustration, self-hating, and embarrassment. All of which originate from our desire that the past should or should not have been otherwise. It’s the void in our want from reality which we desperately want to change but can’t. The only way for a mistake to lose its power is for us to allow our mistake to be, without disliking it or denying its reality. Accept the mistake as it is without any filters. This is how a mistake loses its power and slowly fade away from our lives.
3. Mistake is by default inevitable.
Nobody wants to make mistake. Yet, why do we make mistake? Nobody would make a mistake if they know ahead of time what would be the consequence of that action. But the point here is we don’t. That is why we must make mistake. There is no avoiding it. So when we look back at our mistake in life especially ones that our minds often replay in our heads, it is important to understand that there was nothing we can do to change the past. It is something that must happen the way it did and not any other way.
Changing Our Attitude with Our Mistakes in Life
So how does one deal with one’s mistake? Here are 4 definitive steps to overcoming your mistake in life:
1. Take Full Responsibility For Your Mistake And All Its Ramification
- If we are unwilling to accept its consequences, then we are not ready to fully come to terms with our mistake. Have the courage to face your mistake. Be responsible for it. Don't run away from it. Mistake is by definition undesirable. But when we made a mistake, we must be strong and mature enough to take full responsibility for it whether or not it was intentionally or unintentionally, whether it effects just you or many other people.
2. Think About What Is Best At This Very Moment
- Is there a benefit in going over our mistake? If there is then please do. But if brooding over our mistake only rubs the salt in the wound, then perhaps there is no point in letting our mistake take over our lives. The best question to ask in this situation is, "What can we control at this moment?" Can we change the past? No. Can we change what is in the now? Yes. So let's focus on what we can change instead of what we can't. Let's ask relevant questions like, "How can I do my best now so that I can avoid more mistake in the future?" or "What is the best thing to do right now?" So without the burden of the past, move on by letting go of the past which you no longer have control and focus on what you can control in the present moment.
3. Learn to Forgive Ourselves
- It's impossible to move on if we do not forgive ourselves from our mistake. The characteristic of mistake in life is that they inevitable. Thus, it must happen the way it did. Looking back, you would never have done it. But because you did not know. That's why you made that mistake. So don't take it personally. Anyone who was in your shoes would have made the same mistake.
4. Accepting Our Mistake as It Is. Do not Avoid, Hide, Deny, Blame Others, Bend, or Twist the Reality of Our Mistake.
- If you can't openly tell others your mistake, then this is perhaps a good indicator that there is something you still cannot accept about it. Of course, I am not suggesting for us to go out and tell everybody of our mistake either. My point is simply to come to understand ourselves to see if we still have our biases toward our mistake. If we still do then it is time to reconcile ourselves with these mistakes.
Learning to Be with Your Mistake
The best way to reconcile with any mistakes in life is to accept it. Accepting is different from justifying our wrong doing. Accepting our mistake is to understand that there is no way of going back to fix the past of what we have done. Accepting our mistake is to be courageous and mature enough to accept whatever outcome and ramification that resulted as the direct or indirect outcome of our mistake. Accepting is to see no value in brooding or regretting our mistake, but instead see the value in what is in front of us. It is to be in the now by taking in the mistake as is, not as what you hope or do not hope it would be.
As a basic practice, when the mind wanders back to your mistake in life, do not fight it. Do not find excuses for yourself about why you were not wrong. Do not look for a scapegoat. Observe the feelings associated with our mistakes, but let it be as it is without hoping the mistake would happen otherwise. Simply, know it and be mindful of it. Take it as it is. And understand that it must happen the way it did. Remind yourself of what is the best thing to do right now by knowing what you can and what you can’t control. And let go of our feelings by seeing how the bad feelings that comes with your mistake does not help you or anyone to be better. Eventually, your mistake will begin to lose its power as you slowly come to understand its nature. Don’t let your mistake of the past clouds what is in front you today.