What mistakes teach us about ourselves

What mistakes teach us about ourselves

by Rachel Foo 27 Jan 2020

In a recent family discussion, my dad told me to accept failure as teacher and not be afraid of it. Sadly, not everyone lives by that saying. Most of the people around me seem to handle failure in a negative manner and beat themselves up for making mistakes. The old cliché of mistakes as stepping stones can prove to be an illuminating mantra, as it is often through realising how fallible we are that we find the calling to rise above it.


Despite your mistakes, people still love you

I have made countless mistakes in my life and at the end of the day, I know that my family, partner and friends are still able to say that they love me despite my mistakes. If we allow them to, mistakes can teach us to be more accepting of ourselves and our flaws, while also helping to identify the ones in our social circles who genuinely love and care for us. These are the people who will stick with you through thick and thin.


Learn from your mistakes

So, your first approach did not work. Find out what went wrong with that and tweak it a little! Now, let’s see if this new iteration works. Through your mistakes, you learn how to adapt to similar situations in the future. You will know that from your past mistakes, you have a rough gauge on what is acceptable and what isn’t. Every time you make a mistake, ask yourself, “What went wrong? What should I have done? What have I learnt from this experience? What will I do the next time this happens again?”


Mistakes teach us responsibility

A common knee-jerk reaction to a mistake may be pushing the blame onto someone or something else. Instead of doing that, own up to your mistakes. Not only will you learn to take responsibility, you will also be more careful with your actions, which in turn, affects the quality and direction of your life.


Mistakes teach us integrity 

Have you ever made the mistake of over-promising or over-committing? Do you say “yes” just so you can avoid conflict? Well, when you make a mistake of doing such things, take a step back and re-examine the things you might have said that led to the failure of delivery or broken promises. Next time, keep your integrity in check. Look at the resources you have on hand, and don’t make promises you cannot keep. There’s nothing wrong with delivering a firm “no”.


Use mistakes as a form of inspiration

When my father shared his experiences and spoke of the mistakes he made in the past, it showed me that it really is okay to fail. I felt empowered and inspired to not let the fear of failure get in the way of future decisions. Looking within, the knowledge of how far I’ve come in spite of my various mishaps gives me the courage to face what lies ahead, uncertainties and all.


So, there you have it! Five simple but powerful lessons that you can apply in your life to disassociate shame and regret from mistakes. Train your mind to see the good in every situation, be it success or a failure. Every cloud has its silver lining, but that’s only true if you can bring yourself to see it!