Why You Shouldn’t Punish Yourself When You Make Mistakes

Published on: March 24, 2019

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Sometimes I Wish I Knew Better

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”—Napoleon Hill

Think about a recent mistake and consider how things could have turned out differently for you. Whilst hindsight is a wonderful faculty, it can often make us feel guilt and remorseful for our actions. I want to reassure you that every choice we make is made with the awareness available to us at the time. However, this does not excuse us from repeating the same mistakes. We are the product of our thinking and until we expand our consciousness, we are bound to repeat our mistakes. That’s where hindsight works to our advantage. With a new level of awareness, we can look forward to the future knowing we are not constrained by our mistakes but learn to make better decisions based on the past.

Many people make mistakes they regret. How about you? Are you still holding on to regret from the past or have you made peace with them? I realise it is difficult to let go of the past.  Nonetheless, we can take comfort knowing we did our best and hopefully we won’t repeat the same mistakes. This is why we mustn’t punish ourselves but notice what we’ve chosen and simply choose again; this time more wisely. I’ve made countless mistakes in my 20s regarding my health and career choices. Sometimes I wish I knew better; however, I didn’t have the awareness I now have and was choosing to the best of my ability.

In a recent conversation with a coaching client, she complimented me on helping her overcome her challenges. As I considered the compliment, it reminded me of the countless mistakes I made over the years. In fact, gaining wisdom has little to do with the books I read, the courses attended or the people I surround myself with. Whilst they are important, it was the numerous mistakes I made, and the lessons gained that cultivated good judgement.

It Is About Finding Clarity

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”—Oscar Wilde

Reflect on earlier mistakes that contributed to your personal growth? Sometimes we experience growth while other times we are destined to repeat the same mistakes, until we receive a wake-up call. Nothing teaches us valuable lessons other than life’s experience. No matter how often you feel obligated to help a loved one through a crisis, ultimately, they must learn the lessons on their own. My experience as a coach and speaker shows that people are not ready to receive advice unless they ask or pay for it. I mention this because we must refrain giving advice how others should live their life or overcome their problems. In fact, the best thing we can do is listen to them with an open mind and help them gain clarity. If you’ve ever worked with a coach or mentor, you will notice they ask many questions and seldom give advice. Rather, they help you gain clarity on your issues and lead you towards self-enquiry, so you are better equipped to find the answers yourself.

Considering this, think back to an earlier time when you faced a difficult challenge and consulted other people. Perhaps you received conflicting advice? In those instances, did you find your own solution or rely on the advice given? Similarly, if you followed the advice, did it work in your favour? If you arrived at the solution yourself, were you more empowered? It is my experience that the answers to our most pressing problems are always contained within us, yet we don’t have enough clarity to recognise it or put it into action. We get stuck on life being a certain way and if it doesn’t eventuate as we expect, we become angry and disillusioned. We ought to keep searching for answers and work with our intuition to make sense of the situation. It is a matter of consulting the guidance we receive and interpreting it through logic.

In light of this, return to the mistake I asked you about at the beginning of the article. Contemplate the following questions: What do I need to learn about this situation? What is this experience calling me to understand about myself or life? Where is the growth contained within this experience? Assuredly, when we pose empowering questions, we align ourselves with the right solutions instead of feeling disempowered. Punishing yourself when you make mistakes does not serve you other than to reinforce a despairing mindset. We must notice what we’ve chosen then ask empowering questions, so we are destined not to repeat those mistakes.

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