“When a mistake is made, if you must worry, worry about how to redeem the situation.”
We all make mistakes. To err is to be human. And no matter what the mistake, it can be followed by a not so pleasant worry cycle. But so much of the time we end up worrying focuses on the wrong thing. We look backwards at how “stupid” or “silly” we were to have made the mistake we made. We hit ourselves over the head “Man! I can’t believe I did that!!!” For some, the moment of worry comes and goes, leaving a bitter taste in our mouths. For others, the worry cycle can continue over and over to the extent that it blocks out any constructive thinking.
If you must worry, then worry about the things that MATTER. Try to shift your worrying by moving it from the past, into the future. Rather than beating yourself up about what you did, worry about how you can rectify the situation. Initially when I started this post I wanted to use the word “correct” instead of “redeem”. What’s the difference? To me, correcting something almost eliminates a trace of a mistake made. But some mistakes cannot be corrected. That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, because the situation as a whole can still be redeemed.
When we make a mistake with a pencil or pen, we don’t spend too much time worrying about the mistake, or how ‘stupid’ we may have been. We simply pick up an eraser, or whiteout, and try to correct it. With the things that can be corrected, that simplicity should be our attitude. But this same attitude should also apply with the things that cannot be corrected!
The fact is that people (regardless of gender, age, race, religion, occupation etc) make mistakes. It is one of the best teachers that life can give us. In the past, I’ve talked about learning from your mistakes to try and make sure they aren’t repeated. Worrying about the RIGHT thing can bridge the gap between the mistake made, and learning from it. In the immediate future after a mistake is made, there is no point dwelling on the past. It’s best to shift the focus forward.
Sometimes its hard not to worry. People worry all the time. But if you must worry about something after having made a mistake, worry about how to redeem the situation. If we shift our focus, and take all the time and energy we normally spend worrying after making a mistake, and shift that energy towards redeeming the situation, we open ourselves up to a world of possible solutions.
And in the off chance that a mistake cannot be undone, cannot be corrected, and there is nothing to redeem, skip the worry and move straight into reflection to avoid a similar mistake being made in the future.
Here’s what I try to do when a mistake is made:
1. Breathe. BREATHE! Seriously. Stop everything else, and just breathe!
2. Accept that a mistake has been made, and move on. (Don’t forget to breathe, especially here since this is where most people get stuck. Breathe and MOVE ON).
3. Accept that EVERYONE makes mistakes, and move on. (Don’t forget to breathe).
4. Start to worry/think about how to redeem the situation.
5. Take action towards making #4 a reality.
6. Once the situation has been redeemed, reflect on the experience, what you learned and how you can avoid it from happening in the future.
7. Take a breath of relief. You’ve earned it!