Mistakes Are Just Concepts Modern Society Has Invented

By Julian Burke in Beliefs on February 4th, 2010 / No Comments

It’s a fact that you can learn from a mistake after you admit you have made it, and that you cannot blame anyone else for your actions because you’ll never learn anything from what you’ve done. You have to own up to your mistake and become responsible. Once you’re able to admit that, you can move the focus of the blame away from others.

Making Mistakes in Modern Society
People are taught in school, in their families, or at the workplace that a mistake is something you should feel guilty about even though setbacks are inevitable and part of everyday life. Unfortunately, these same setbacks also seem to explain why people give up in life: they are not prepared to make a mistake and fail. What we need to recognize as a culture is that goals are challenging and setbacks will become more frequent – you must become dependent on your ability to learn from your mistakes and overcome them.

Admitting you’ve made a mistake, for many reasons, is hard. We as people have an implied sense of what failure is: if you fail on a test, you’re a failure, (e.g. if you make a mistake, you are a mistake, etc.). Everything from the things we eat to someone’s grades which are mostly based on test scores are not too forgiving to mistakes.

Life can be scary if you don’t discover an even deeper self-identity based on courage, commitment, compassion, and creativity. You must take risks in life to become a success. Here’s a few ways a person can take a risk that may involve a mistake that they can learn from:

  • First, put yourself in a situation where you can actually make a mistake (that’s very important).
  • Next, have some self-confidence. Admit when you’ve done something wrong!
  • Have courage — don’t be afraid to make any changes that will keep this mistake from happening again.

All of these steps will be covered in more detail shortly.

Four Common Ways Mistakes Are Made
Okay, let’s break down the different kinds of mistakes there are. One of the first mistakes one might make would be a stupid one such as stubbing a toe, dropping a heavy object onto someone’s foot, or tripping over something you may not have seen.

The next common mistake is the simple mistake – these are the kinds of mistakes people make that are avoidable but the circumstances make them inevitable. Say you’re having a get-together and the power goes out because you forgot to pay your electric bill, or you’re an hour late in picking up your date to the dance because you had forgotten an English essay that was due the next day at school. Those examples define what a simple mistake is.

The third most common mistake is an involved mistake – those are understood mistakes that require much effort to keep them from happening. If you arrive to work late on a frequent basis or put off something you promised you would take care of for a friend, you are making an involved mistake.

And finally, there’s the complex mistake – these have complicated causes with no way to avoid them in the future such as making a tough decision that has a bad outcome or a failed relationship.

Every Outcome Has Its Own Purpose and Learning Experience
Some people enjoy making mistakes that at the time feel good in the short-term even though they have long-term consequences. Learning from simple or stupid mistakes is generally pretty easy because you’ll be quick to realize what you did wrong and figure out the correct way of doing it in the future. The lessons you learn from the first two kinds of mistakes, however, are not that deep and you won’t really learn anything about yourself or anyone else.

The kinds of mistakes that someone makes is what defines them as a person. There’s not much to learn when you make a simple or stupid mistake.

Handling complex mistakes is slightly different in that you have to be extremely patient when you make said mistake. You should never try to fix something you do not understand because that will only make the situation worse. Try to talk to someone you can trust about what happened. They might be able to give you advice if they’ve been in your situation before or figure out a way to deal with the problem that you haven’t yet thought of.

When you describe what happened with someone else, you can begin to break down the events that took place in chronological order and define them. Something else might have been going on that distracted you that you might realize when you’re telling your story.

If more than one person is involved in a mistake, hear them out individually. They’ll all emphasize aspects of the situation that stood out for them based on their circumstances which will get you a clearer picture of what really might have happened.

Getting Past Your Mistakes
Once you’re able to overcome the mistake you have made, learn from it and try to focus on your life going forward. Having a sense of humor is one way of combating a person’s self-esteem after they have made a mistake. When you can laugh at your mistakes, you know you’ve finally accepted and taken responsibility for what happened and you will no longer feel guilty or want to judge yourself because of a singular event that occurred. Humor also makes you feel better psychologically and prevents you from obsessing over something that took place in the past.

Most importantly, if you learn from your mistakes, you’ll be able to avoid future mistakes. Mistakes that you make along life’s road will help you achieve your goals and get you to where you want to be.

To summarize, here’s what you need to do to learn from your mistakes:

  • Accept responsibility
  • Don’t think you are a mistake because you made a mistake
  • Change how you respond to mistakes after you make one
  • Figure out information that could have avoided a mistake from happening
  • Figure out if any small mistakes might have contributed to a larger one
  • Consider alternatives you could have chosen to prevent a mistake
  • Make some changes that will avoid any mistake you make from ever occurring again
  • If you need to change your behavior to avoid a mistake, do so
  • Understand the mistake you’ve made and then laugh at it and move on with your life
  • Never over-compensate for a mistake you make because the next situation will not be the same as the last one

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