Everyone makes mistakes in life, both large and small. No-one manages to breeze through every day without doing or saying the wrong thing on occasions, making a bad decision or making a mess of something. People who think they’re infallible are mistaken in their belief, and usually pretty insufferable characters too! You’re far more likely to be disliked for pretending you’re always right than for being honest when you get something wrong.
Making mistakes is an essential part of learning, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself about the odd error of judgment. What you do need to do is know how to rectify any fallout from your mistake, and learn from what you’ve experienced.
Realizing your error
You have to know you’ve made a mistake before you can apologize and sort it out. Do you get a horrible sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you’ve made a mistake? If it’s something that’s likely to get you into trouble, that sinking feeling can be highly unpleasant, and it’s even worse when you don’t know anything’s gone awry until your boss calls you into their office, or you get a phone call to say you’ve missed an appointment.
That physical feeling is caused by the same response as being under threat – your body goes into red alert, preparing you to fight or run away, and stress hormones are released into your bloodstream making you feel that physical response to the situation.
Acknowledging your mistake
Some people are oblivious to the problems they cause or always have a justification for their actions, while others take the blame for everything even when it isn’t their fault. You don’t want to be a doormat who accepts responsibility for everything that goes wrong, and neither do you want to be so arrogant that you can’t recognize your own failings. When anything does go wrong, take a step back and assess what’s happened so you can be honest about your part in the event.
No flying or fighting
That primitive flight or fight response may have been useful thousands of years ago when you crossed paths with a mega bear, but in modern life running away or getting aggressive aren’t likely to help. Any kind of overly emotional response is going to be counter-productive, because you need to concentrate on what actions can be taken to correct the mistake and any of the consequences.
If you respond to getting a parking ticket by losing your temper, you’ll only make the situation worse; you’ll still have a ticket, but you might also have a damaged car or an arrest to contend with too. In the same way, if your boss tells you that a client’s unhappy because you missed a deadline, running off to the restroom isn’t going to help regain the client’s – or your boss’s – confidence. Don’t panic when something goes wrong; find out exactly what’s happened and see how you can fix the problem if it’s possible.
If someone else is affected by your actions, you need to have the grace and strength of character to be honest about making a mistake, and do your best to make up for it. First, you need to apologize and be sincere when you say you’re sorry. People can tell whether you’re genuine when you apologize, so don’t fake it; make your apology as honest as possible. If it’s a work situation, then taking action to sort it out is the best way of handling the issue, even if it means working late or putting in extra effort to get the job done. If it’s a personal issue, then you need to consider how your loved one feels and how you can repair the damage to your relationship.
In many cases, buying flowers or a gift can make all the difference in showing you’re genuinely sorry. If you’ve upset your best friend by criticizing her outfit or questioning her judgment regarding something she feels passionately about, then surprising her by having flowers delivered will show her you’re genuinely sorry for hurting her feelings. The surprise factor of having your gift delivered to her makes it far more memorable, and thus makes forgiveness more likely. There are all kinds of gifts available for delivery to people’s home or workplace, for example, you can shop here for a wide range of flowers and gifts for delivery.
Mistakes that can’t be rectified
Sometimes you’re bound to make mistakes that you can’t do anything to change, for instance forgetting to meet up with a friend for lunch, or backing into another car at the mall. You can’t turn back time and stop these events from happening, all you can do is deal with what’s happened and move on. Make sure you meet your friend next time you make a date, and leave your details on the car you drove into if the owner’s not around. These are relatively minor events, although they can be pretty stressful at the time. Some mistakes in life have long-lasting effects, for instance not making up with a parent before they die, or deciding that experimenting with recreational drugs is a good idea.
People are usually very understanding of others making errors, providing they react appropriately and don’t keep making the same mistake again. It’s when they respond badly, don’t take responsibility, and continue to make the same errors over and over that the people they’re affecting lose patience. You can’t avoid making mistakes, but you can avoid repeating the same ones over again.
Brooding over mistakes won’t do you any good, and won’t help anyone affected. Take what action you can, convey your sincere regret to anyone involved, and try to learn from your experience so you can avoid making the same kinds of mistakes in the future. Unless you accidentally press the nuclear annihilation button, the world isn’t going to end just because you did something you shouldn’t have. No-one’s immune to making mistakes, and if you do your best to lessen the effects, no-one can really ask for anymore.