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May 15, 2009

What To Do After You Make A Crushing Mistake

We all make some of the same mistakes over and over again.  Some of them are costly.  And the costlier the mistake, the more likely we are to want to get angry at ourselves for making it … and then avoid thinking about it ever again (until we repeat it, of course).

This is natural.  Costly, crushing mistakes are emotional poison to us, and we instinctively want to do anything possible to stop thinking about it.

What You Should Do Immediately, While The Wound Is Still Fresh

Once the mistake is made, do what comes naturally.  Yell.  Stomp your feet.  Kick your chair if you have to – do whatever it takes to push that first bit of tension away (as long as it’s not truly destructive of course).

But make it finite.

Tell yourself you’ll let yourself be pissed as hell for exactly sixty seconds, then you will have to rein it in for a while.  Count the sixty if you have to, or just look at the clock.  (It doesn’t have to be sixty – just make it short, and don’t guilt-trip yourself for feeling sad, or angry, or whatever.  Just meet the feeling, acknowledge it, and vent a little to take the edge off.)

Then work on the antidote, now – in writing.

No, you can’t fix a crushing mistake immediately.  But what you can do is learn the lesson, right now, and turn it into something positive for the future.  If you’ve totally fucked something up, write down why you did it, what you need to do differently next time, and how you can make yourself do it differently next time.

Yeah, that last part is the hard one.  Maybe you don’t know how.  But you can come up with something.  Something as a start.  And starting is the important thing.  Because if you can keep “how to maybe stop doing this” in your radar, rather than avoiding the feeling, maybe things will start changing.

Take that paper you’ve written on, and take it out once a day and look at it.  Do it the same time each day so you don’t forget it (At breakfast?  After lunch?  While brushing your teeth?) and don’t pretend the problem isn’t there.

Acknowledge it.  It’s poisoning your life.

Use that paper as the antidote. Rewrite it if necessary, as often as necessary.  But keep it on your daily radar so you can work on it.

Quit hiding from the problem, and maybe it’ll stop popping out and surprising you so often.

Quick fix?  No.  But it’s a start.

Just sayin’.


8 Responses to “What To Do After You Make A Crushing Mistake”

  • May 15, 2009 MoneyEnergy

    Nice blog, glad to meet it! I like this post; retweeted and fave’d it. I know I can use this advice:!) Looking forward to reading all the other great tidbits. (Darn, this sounds like one of those auto-bot-commenters…. well, it’s not:)!

    MoneyEnergy’s last blog post..If You Want To Feel Rich, Count the Things You Have That Money Can’t Buy

  • May 15, 2009 Pizzuti

    Perfectly said and much needed for me as I am supremely hot tempered and self-loathing when I have defeated myself. I will certainly save this and RT this, thanks

    Pizzuti’s last blog post..Purest Honey Apiary

  • May 15, 2009 Positively Present

    Excellent advice here! We can’t always avoid making a mistake in the first place (okay, a lot of the time we can, but we don’t) so it’s great to read about what the next step should be. Really great post!

    Positively Present’s last blog post..down and out is overrated

  • May 15, 2009 Srinivas Rao

    Great post. I think dealing with setback is something nobody really teaches us how to do effectively. So, thanks for posting this :)

  • May 15, 2009 MoneyEnergy

    Trying to find the post where you talk about saying “I don’t have to feel this way.” Just read it yesterday. Don’t know what post it is – I want to link to it!:)

    MoneyEnergy’s last blog post..If You Want To Feel Rich, Count the Things You Have That Money Can’t Buy

  • Sep 29, 2010 Chun Li costumes

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