Learning from our mistakes

learning from our mistakesThis morning I was running late with Radio 2 playing in my car. Right Said Fred were playing Johnny Cash’s version of Ring of Fire live but unfortunately the lead singer, Fred, forgot the words. Not once but twice! As a listener it didn’t matter to me. However, I did wonder how Fred felt. He was laughing but considering there are over 7 million listeners hearing him, I imagined him having that feeling of embarrassment wash over him. I’m sure his pride had been dented and the thought that he has made a mistake will be causing him pain some pain.

Learning from our mistakes

How does Fred move on from this and not let that happen to him again? In the worst case scenario it could make him stop playing live on Radio again. The best case scenario is he will reflect on it, learn from it and move on. In turn, I thought this could be a good example I could give to my clients who struggle with not being able to move on from mistakes and clients who keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Mistakes happen to all of us.

The biggest step that we need to take is to admit we’ve made the mistake. When our mistakes cause pain we often in denial that it is our fault or even convince ourselves that it didn’t happen. This denial or refusal to accept our mistakes means we carry on being burdened by them, resulting in us making more in the future or leaving us being tormented by our mistake. Fred this morning could blame this mistake on the fact he was not singing his own song and therefore it will not happen to him again as the majority of time he sings songs that he has written. However, if he wills himself not to do it again, do you think this will be enough not make the mistake again?

Of course not! Fred….

needs to develop a strategy to change his behaviour.

Being aware that he can forget his words is not enough to stop him forgetting them again. What will stop him forgetting? He needs to make a plan that will help him memorise his words when he feels stressed or pressurised. Often a way of changing our behaviour to forgetting is to form a habit around the mistake. An example to show this is my own mistake. Recently I forgot my electronic diary to work meaning I could not book my clients in for the next week. To stop me doing this gain, I have developed a strategy where I change my behaviour to ensure every day I have my ipad with me on work days. Now in the evenings, I always put my ipad on my work bag – even if I’m not working the next day. I therefore always have it when I go to work.

Reflecting on our mistakes

Lastly the biggest learning we can make from our mistakes is spending some time on reflecting on the mistake and our new strategies and how this behaviour is impacting us. We need to have courage to review our mistakes and analyse what we have learnt from it. This will help lead us to change band help us not only making the mistake again but improve our thinking and ways we interact with people. If we continuously review our mistakes in order to gain from our learning, it will lead to us changing our behaviour and not repeating patterns. It will also stop us being fearful of our mistakes in the future.

Don’t be full of regrets

In our lives we need to make mistakes to teach us that not always things work out for us but also they teach us about ourselves. We must not look back and be full of regrets. Being honest about our failures and limitations enriches us and increases our capacity to change, and allows us to move forward. It is important not to be regretful about our mistakes (however huge and damaging they have been). As James Hauenstein says ‘Have no regrets in life because of the choices you make. Good or bad, they are a learning experience, to help you grow. The only regret in life, is never to make any choice at all’’

What mistakes have you made that you have learnt from?

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Hazel Hill has a private supervision and counselling practice in Sheffield. As well as having a private Sheffield and online practice, her clinical experience includes working for IAPT, EAP's affiliate work, and charity. Hazel specialises in workplace counselling, bereavement, anxiety and depression and outdoors counselling. You can contact her on 07814 363855

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