How to Learn from Mistakes

Nobody likes making mistakes. But, unless you want to go through life as a complete recluse, you are guaranteed to make one every now and them. If you learn from mistakes correctly, they can propell will you forward.

You must also realise that mistakes are an essential part of self improvement. Don’t be overwhelmed with guilt and regret, analyze how you can learn from them.

Apologise with Dignity

If you’ve made mistakes that harm other people, it is important to offer a dignified apology. Be clear that it was an unfortunate incident that will not be repeated. A good apology can go along way to restoring trust.

If you don’t apologize, out of embarrassment or unwillingness, the offended person will hold it against you. If your apology is sincere, the other person is likely to forgive you.

It is more effective to apologize in person, rather than through a curt email. However, once you have apologised, it is mistake to repeatedly say sorry for the same mistake. Some people keep apologising over and over again. This becomes irritating. It is better to sincerely apologize once and then move on.

Don’t be a Perfectionist

If you go through life afraid to make a mistake, you’ll spend most of your life doing absolutely nothing. There is no harm in making mistakes, it is an essential part of going forward. The more responsibility you take on, the more likely you will make mistakes.

If you feel the need to avoid mistakes at all costs, it becomes a psychological barrier to taking risks. If you make a mistake, don’t retreat into a shell.

Don’t Waste Time Trying to Justify Mistakes

Unfortunately, it is our natural instinct to try to justify our actions. When you make a mistake, theinitial reaction is to blame someone else.

“Yes, I drove my car into the wall, but it was all my partners fault for distracting me with her incessant gossiping…”

When mistakes are made, the boss is unlikely to be interested in justifications. We justify mistakes for the sake of our ego. Sometimes it is best to say, very simply — yes, I made a mistake.

Understand Why The Mistake Occurred

Mistakes occur for various reasons. To avoid repeating them, you need to understand the underlying reason.

For example, you may have spoken in anger and haste; the mistake here is to say unkind words. However, what led you to be angry in the first place? Perhaps you were chronically tired, or perhaps you were nursing an unrelated grievance. If you make mistakes because you are permanently tired, try to get more sleep; if you are permanently stressed, look at ways to relax and detach from the stress of work.

Avoid Repeating Mistakes

You should avoid feeling guilty about making mistakes, but at the same time, you should make a resolution to learn from them. If you repeat the same mistakes, it shows you aren’t making progress and causes repeated suffering.

Often mistakes are caused by bad habits. To avoid making the same mistakes you need to break these bad habits. This requires careful consideration and sustained effort to change your way of thinking. However, the sooner you change your habits, the sooner you will avoid making the same mistakes.

Mistakes are Opportunities to Learn

From your own mistakes you can gain wisdom and accelerate self-improvement. Mistakes, because of their relationship with risk taking, are essential to success. The important thing is to view mistakes as a useful stepping stone to a higher reality and better outlook on life.

Tejvan Pettinger is a member of the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. He lives in Oxford where he works as a teacher. He enjoys writing and updates a blog called Sri Chinmoy Inspiration, a collection of articles on self improvement. Recent articles include: Finding Inspiration to Write on Self Improvement.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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