At the start of the year, you decide to jog every morning before work to lose weight. You do it right a few times and it feels good. One day you wake up late and have to rush to work, missing your morning jog. The rest of the day, it bothers you. You start to justify what happened to get rid of the guilt from missing your morning run. It’s fine. You deserve a break once in a while.
The following day, again, you miss your jog. You don’t feel bad because, again, you tell yourself how much you deserve a break. The next day, you don’t even think you have to jog anymore because you have decided to take a break forever.
Let’s get one thing straight. If we want to actually get over our mistakes, stop justifying it.
Right now, most of us live in an environment that refuses to let us be less than perfect. Entire industries thrive in reinforcing the belief that at all times, we must strive for perfection. Ads sell us products to give us the perfect skin. Movies sell us the romance of having the perfect relationship between the most perfect-looking people. Our intellectual worth, judged by how close to perfect our academic records can be.
Now, what happens when we inevitably make a mistake?
Whether it’s waking up late when you have something to do, or when you unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings by saying something rude. Mistakes are unavoidable and the worst thing that you can do is justify it or make an excuse. All you are doing is lying to yourself. By doing so and getting away with it, you just reinforce it in your head that your mistakes are only misinterpreted actions and that it was never really a mistake to begin with. It’s a trap, and you will soon notice that it usually gets you nothing worthwhile.
If you truly wish to get over a mistake and make the most of it, consider these insights.
Make a mistake, pay a consequence. When you fail a promise to yourself or do something wrong that only you are aware of, it will occupy the rest of your day. It will bother you in every idle moment that you have and grind away at your motivation and will hinder your attempts to be productive. The simplest way to get rid of this feeling is to pay a price. Do one thing that you don’t like to do. When you are done, consider the mistake paid for, and let it die a natural death.
If you arrived to work late, that’s a mistake. Pay for it with something that you can do immediately. Maybe find a room and do ten push-ups, if that is something you don’t like doing. If you woke up late and don’t get to exercise before going to work, bathe in cold water maybe if it’s something you hate. Pay a price, consider your debt paid. Move on.
Make a mistake — admit it. There is an ignored nobility in owning up to a mistake and it is this. Admitting a mistake, lets everyone move on. When you commit a mistake and try to justify it, people around will know what you are doing. They might keep quiet about it but label you in their minds as unreliable. They will expect less of you, and with each mistake you cover up, will eventually lead to other people expecting nothing from you.
People look at tissue paper and expect it to soak spills or wipe dirt off things. Imagine when people see you and expect nothing, you are literally, less reliable than tissue paper.
When you admit to a mistake, people who are directly or indirectly affected by it can move on. In their eyes, a mistake has been made and recognized. They trust that you will do your best not do it again and move on. From here, you can work on building up their expectations to a respectable level with nothing to hold you back.
Make a mistake, remember that everyone else makes just as many. When trying to learn a new skill and failing miserably or when you get burned by your boss for blowing a presentation, remember that everyone makes a mistake and that no one is perfect. The simple but often elusive point is, a mistake is often recoverable and that we shouldn’t shy away from making any by justifying them.
The only true enemy that any person will face when he makes a mistake is to justify it and lie that it’s not there — that is the coward’s way out. At the core of any mistake that has festered into an overblown problem is liars who are unable to accept the truth and the consequence.