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I love mistakes.  Mistakes are how I learn the best, and I've made plenty of them in my lifetime, so I naturally consider myself to be a well-learned person.  It makes sense, at least to me.  When I've studied languages, the easiest way for me to internalize something--vocabulary or verb conjugation or declensions--was when someone corrected me after I made a mistake.  If I'm learning a new sport, I learn the most when I make a mistake and I see the right way to do something through the error, or I see why someone told me to do something a certain way, for I've learned the consequences of not doing it that way.

The argument could be made, though--and I'll make it--that this type of thing could be more effectively classified as error rather than mistake.  In my life, the mistakes are actions that affect me strongly in a very negative way--I think about them for days, I regret them tremendously, and sometimes I beat myself up emotionally over them, wishing I hadn't done what I had done.  I've been fortunate--I haven't made all that many of this type of mistake, but they've been there.

The important thing for me to keep in mind about this type of mistake is that it invariably affects other people very strongly.  My actions have hurt or offended others, and have taken away, if only a little bit, from the positiveness of their lives.  Their happiness or peace of mind is diminished because of something I've done.

I've said something rude or ignorant that was better left unsaid, or I've done something that hurts someone else, or I've not taken someone's feelings into consideration before taking an action.  I've left someone out, or I've misjudged someone or their actions.

A small example of what I mean, from years ago when I was very young:  We were on a school bus, taking a field trip down to Chicago.  I was sitting in the front seat, and two girls were sitting behind me--one was Debbie, but I don't remember who the other one was.  Debbie started teasing me mildly, and I tried teasing back, but it just didn't work.  She kept it up, nothing vicious and nothing mean, until I had just had enough.  I turned around and said something to the effect of "Shut up, bitch."  I was about 12, and I still hadn't learned the strength of words.

The look on her face taught me about that strength.  She was crushed, and I could see the shock and the hurt in her eyes and in her face.  I shut her up, definitely, but had it been worth it?  Of course not.

I keep that thought with me even today, a few decades later.  I can't forget it and I don't want to forget it, and here's why:  I see two ways of dealing with that memory.  First of all, I can continue to be angry with myself for having said what I said.  I can call myself names such as insensitive and rude and uncaring, and I can continue to feel bad, diminishing my own enjoyment of my life and current situations.  But what does that accomplish?  Does it help me?  Not a bit.

The other option is the one I choose to take with all of my mistakes--I learn from it.  I carry the look on Debbie's face with me, and I carry my own reaction, the "what have I done?" feeling, and I use them to help me determine future actions.  Whenever I'm tempted to say something rather harsh to someone else, no matter how deserving that person may seem to be of my harshness, I think of the possible consequences first, and I think of how Debbie felt that day, and how I felt.  I can't take back my words, but I can change the way I deal with people in order to prevent such a thing from happening again.  I can try to be constructive and helpful and caring towards others rather than vindictive and hateful and destructive.

A trivial example?  Sort of, but as an illustration of how I go about trying to learn from my mistakes, a perfect example.  Too often, though, I see others adding more mistakes to their original one--they get angry with themselves, and they're unable to forgive themselves, and they make themselves miserable, even sick, over things they've done that they can't take back.  It's not worth it, though.  Learn from your mistakes and move on, and don't make them again.  Consider your avoidance of such mistakes in the future as a tribute to the person or people you've hurt, and I'm sure they'll be more than forgiving of you.  If not, then that becomes their problem, doesn't it?

Also worth note, though, is the fact that I love to learn from the mistakes of others.  Growing up with an alcoholic father, I learned very early of the pain and anguish that drinking can cause, and I'm very proud to say that I've never been drunk in my life, and I've never caused another person any pain because of addictive actions on my part.  I was fortunate, in a way, to learn this early, and move to the other side of the spectrum.  My brother and sister, on the other hand, both got into alcohol and drugs rather extensively, and they're still battling their addictions.  They didn't see the results of my father's actions, even though they lived with him, too, and they adopted the same types of behavior.  If you see a person making such a mistake in your life, learn from that person, and don't make yourselves and others miserable by adopting behavior that you have seen hurts others.

You're going to make mistakes.  You're human.  Learn from them.  Carry with you the lessons from them, not the regret or the actions themselves. 



Half of our mistakes in life arise from feeling where we
ought to think, and thinking where we ought to feel.

John Churton Collins

The person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.

William Connor Magee

People should never be ashamed to own they have been in the
wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are
wiser today than they were yesterday.

Alexander Pope


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Just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you are a mistake.

Georgette Mosbacher


Those who never made a mistake never made a discovery.

Samuel Smiles

There's nothing final about a mistake, except its being taken as final.

Phyllis Bottome

A blunder at the right moment is better than cleverness at the wrong time.

Carolyn Wells


If I had to live my life again I'd make all the same
mistakes--only sooner.

Tallulah Bankhead

If you must make a mistake, make a new one each time.

Dale Carnegie

Admit your errors before someone else exaggerates them.

Andrew V. Mason


If you canít make a mistake, you canít make anything.

Marva N. Collins


How many times do we pay for one mistake?  The answer is
thousands of times.  The human is the only animal on earth
that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.  The rest
of the animals pay once for every mistake they make.  But not us.
We have a powerful memory.  We make a mistake, we judge ourselves,
we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves.  If justice exists,
then that was enough; we don't need to do it again.  But every
time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again,
and we punish ourselves again, and again, and again.  If we have
a wife or husband he or she also reminds us of the mistake, so we
can judge ourselves again, punish ourselves again,
and find ourselves guilty again.  Is this fair?

Don Miguel Ruiz


Like most people, Aunt Hattie Mae explained, I saw my mistakes as
failures--setbacks and defeats to disappoint, depress, or demoralize me.
What they really are, however, are opportunities.  Because it is from
our mistakes that we learn the lessons we need to develop and grow. . . .
Mistakes aren't just our teachers; they're also our motivators.  They
cause us to reexamine our choices, revise our plans, and, in some cases,
reconsider the way we live our lives.  And change them for the better. . . .
The person who makes no mistakes doesn't usually make anything.
And when you learn to see your mistakes for what they are--compulsory
education--the harder you fall, the higher you'll bounce.

Patti LaBelle


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How many mistakes did you make this week?  A full life requires thousands of
mistakes if you plan to live up to your creative potential.

When we are children, adults try to talk us out of making mistakes and we get
confused.  They are referring to life-threatening mistakes, but we think they
mean everything.

Check how open you are to mistakes.  Can you stand it?  Can you laugh?  Do
you shy away from things you might not do well?  Do you laugh at people who
seem clumsy or naive?  Do you grit your teeth when someone you love makes
a mistake?  Are you under the illusion that everyone is watching you and
keeping score?

Start counting your mistakes on a daily basis and try to increase them by
ten percent.  That will require you to stretch and grow.  Try not mentioning
other people's mistakes.  Take risks; be tolerant of yourself and others. . . .
Mistakes are the dues of a good and full life.  Stretch and enjoy.

Jennifer James

If error is corrected whenever it is recognized as such,
the path of error is the path of truth.

Hans Reichenbach


Nature does not require that we be perfect; it requires
only that we grow, and we can do this as well
from a mistake as from a success.

Rollo May


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God knew we would make mistakes. Life is all about mistakes.
It is constant change and growth. Our greatest challenges in life
will one day be known to us as our greatest teachers.

Betty Eadie

If you're learning, growing and trying new things--expect mistakes.
They're a natural part of the learning process.  In fact, someone once
said, "If you're not making at least 50 mistakes a day, you're not trying
hard enough."  What the person meant, we think, is that growth,
discovery and expansion have mistakes built into them.

To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes
may be the biggest mistake of all.

John-Roger and Peter McWilliams


I believe that you should not be judged by the mistakes you've made
in life but rather should be judged by how you fix them.

Bill Resler
The Heart of the Team

We learn from our mistakes, and it is our job as adults to share the lessons
we've painfully learned through experience in a positive and instructive way.

How many times do we pay for one mistake?  The answer is thousands of
times.  The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times
for the same mistake.  The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake
they make.  But not us.  We have a powerful memory.  We make a mistake,
we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves.  If
justice exists, then that was enough; we don't need to do it again.  But
every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again,
and we punish ourselves again, and again, and again.  If we have a wife or
husband he or she also reminds us of the mistake, so we can judge ourselves
again, punish ourselves again, and find ourselves guilty again.  Is this fair?

Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements

If you are terrified of making mistakes, you will be reluctant to acknowledge them
when you do make them--and therefore you will not correct them.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day

If you are wise enough to base your self-esteem not on being "right" but on
being rational--on being conscious--and on having integrity, then you
recognize that acknowledgement and correction of an error is not an
abyss into which you have fallen but a height you can take pride in having climbed.


That is the trouble with many inventors; they lack patience. They lack the
willingness to work a thing out slowly and clearly and sharply in their mind,
so that they can actually "feel it work." They want to try their first idea right
off; and the result is they use up lots of money and lots of good material,
only to find eventually that they are working in the wrong direction. We
all make mistakes, and it is better to make them before we begin.

Nikola Tesla

You know, by the time you've reached my age, you've made
plenty of mistakes if you've lived your life properly.

Ronald Reagan

If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. . .
you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing
we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.

Mary Pickford




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