How To Not Panic When You Have Made A Major Mistake

Things You Can Do to Move on When You’ve Screwed up

The great thing about life is our biggest lessons are often learned after we’ve made big mistakes. And we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes.

While we don’t intentionally try to make mistakes, when we do, it can be painful, uncomfortable and sometimes, even agonising, especially if we keep thinking about what we did or didn’t do.

If we’re not careful, reliving our major mistakes over and over again can lead to:

  • Sadness or depression.
  • Loss of self-confidence.
  • High levels of anxiety.
  • Low levels of performance and effectiveness.
  • Less willingness to try new things or take new risks.

The good news is we always have a choice. We can choose to do what we can to move on and ensure we do not repeat similar mistakes again in the future.

How to get over a huge mistake

A major mistake I made in life was choosing a career I had no interest or passion in. Looking back at that time in my life, I did not know what I wanted to do or what I wanted out of life. As a result of that choice, I spent five years acquiring a university qualification that did not bring me joy, and had a career that was not satisfying.

The good thing was that career choice, which was not giving me joy, forced me to look at other options that I was more passionate about. By using what I learned in my previous career, I’ve been able to transition into a new career that’s totally different to what I had before.

5 Things You Can Do After You’ve Made a Major Mistake

  1. Avoid the temptation to react straight away. There is a difference between reacting and responding. Our tendency may be to do something immediately especially if the mistake we’ve made involves another person. While there may be occasions where that’s appropriate, most times, it’s beneficial to give ourselves the gift of time to gather ourselves, think through the situation we find ourselves in, and then respond accordingly.
  2. Process your emotions. When a major mistake is made, emotions are often quite high. Allowing ourselves to acknowledge what we are feeling is important. We should never try and ignore what we’re feeling. Instead, we should accept what happened and acknowledge how we are feeling as a result. One way to move past our emotions is to ask ourselves what meaning we are giving to the experience and what happened. Our interpretation of an event often generates the emotions we experience.
  3. Look for the learning opportunity. As we process our emotions, we will start seeing the event or experience from new perspectives. Accordingly to the law of polarity, if we deem an event to be bad, then there also has to be something good about it too. Our intention should always be to learn and avoid making the same mistake again. Clarifying our intentions and what we can do differently next time will be a big benefit moving forward.
  4. Change your self talk. Our tendency may be to berate ourselves and keep reliving what we did. That’s not going to help us at all. We all make mistakes and we have to do our part to make things right. It’s more beneficial to use positive and empowering self talk, while acknowledging what happened and our part in creating the situation we find ourselves in.
  5. Take responsibility. We have to own up to our mistakes otherwise there will be significant consequences. It could result in putting a personal or professional relationship at risk, financial loss or jeopardise future goals. If others are involved and we’ve done wrong by them, then we obviously have to apologise in order to make things right. People tend to be more forgiving if we’re willing to own up to our mistakes and take responsibility for them.

A mentor of mine once said, “Nothing is ever disastrous.” Just because we’ve made a major mistake in life does not mean we cannot bounce back. If anything, the mistakes we make helps us become stronger, wiser and better able to deal with similar experiences in the future. Every day we get a second chance to be the best we can be.

Action Step: Reflect on a major mistake you made in the past or one you’re currently dealing with. How have you tried to deal with it? Use some of the ideas mentioned above to learn and move on from that mistake.

Question: What is something else we can do when we’ve made a major mistake?

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