When you make a mistake, you quickly forget all the wins and praise lauded on you over the years. Make one measly mistake and it’s all you can think about. And, unfortunately, you may carry it with you for a lifetime. This is normal, but not healthy.
Mistakes happen, and the wise know that that’s how you learn. Stumble and fall, and get up again—it’s the cycle of human development from toddlerhood. Still, when you make mistakes, this experiential wisdom can fly out the door. Your first reaction may be, “I’m angry at myself.” This may also be the exact phrase you use in your Internet search for answers. First, know that you’re not alone. Second, there are numerous ways to cool this heated emotion and get yourself back on track.
So, sit back, take a deep breath, and consider these ten things you can do when you’re angry at yourself for your mistakes
1. Remember, You’re Human
Everyone makes mistakes, and you will, too. Once you’ve realized that you are a part of this imperfect group called humans, you’ll feel better about your journey. In fact, when you’re angry for making mistakes, consider it a rite of passage. You’ll inevitably fail at times, say things that you shouldn’t, or fall short of expectations. Not to be glib, but rather honest—this is life. It’s being human. So, whatever mistakes you’ve made before and whatever ones you will make in the future, they’ll help you grow as a professional and as a human.
2. Get Your Anger in Check
Anger is a troubling emotion because it clouds your judgment and logical decision-making process. It’s also incredibly unhealthy. Anger fuels a spike in your blood pressure, increases stress and risk of cardiovascular disease, and suppresses your immune system. Additionally, unmitigated anger can fuel dangerous outcomes including violence and addicted behaviors.
You need to learn how to manage your anger. By admitting aloud, “I’m angry at myself,” you own your state of mind. Now, check it. Don’t let it fester and grow. Remember, mistakes are manageable, but untethered anger is not. If you don’t get your anger in check, it can have a negative impact on the rest of your life.
3. Vent and Get It Off Your Chest
One way to get your anger diffused is to vent. There’s nothing more liberating than sharing how you feel with the world. But take note—venting on social media isn’t a wise idea. It can derail your personal and professional life if you go off on someone or indulge in a self-deprecating rant.
Instead, find a trusted source to vent to. This could be anyone from a friend to your pet. Just tell them, “I’m angry at myself.” Get off your chest all the bottled-up emotions weighing you down. The company of a trusted group of friends or even a support group is a great place to vent. These collectives are designed to listen to whatever is weighing you down.
You might even find the best place for you to vent is a journal. Writing down how you feel and what you’ve learned from this experience is not only a great way to vent but also gives you a place to park your thoughts and emotions for later reflection.
4. Get Up and Get Moving
Exercise and activity are great ways to exhaust the “I’m angry at myself” emotion bubbling within. Take a brisk walk or attack the weight bag or consider cleaning out the closet or garage. Occupying your mind, body, and soul with productive physical activity is the next logical step in freeing yourself from this burden.
There is nothing more liberating than working up a healthy sweat. You’ll find that physical activity will instantly diffuse your anger and that a spike of endorphins gives you clarity. Once you’ve found a healthy way to exercise your adrenaline, you’re ready to step into a logical space and examine what went wrong and how can you manage things better next time.
5. Seek Counsel From Others
When you’re angry or dealing with any heightened emotion, your judgment is clouded. It’s hard to find your way out of the forest. Seek counsel—whether it’s in the form of a friend, family member, or professional—and tell them, “I’m angry at myself,” and layout why. They’ll listen and will help you sort through your anger. They may also offer advice on what you could change moving forward or how you could get past self-berating. Their authentic positive affirmations and willingness to listen will be the best antidote for your anger.
Keep in mind, it’s not a sign of weakness to seek out professional help, especially if anger is an ongoing reaction you experience to setbacks. A counselor or clinician is trained to help you unearth the root of such emotions and help you explore why they are triggered. Moving forward, you’ll have the skills to better manage your emotions and explore alternate and more thoughtful paths when mistakes occur.
6. Tamper Down Your Inner Critic
Don’t let mistakes flair up that inner voice that says, “I’m not good enough.” While you’ll wonder if it’s true and for a moment (or two) believe your inner critic, stop yourself from heading down that victim slippery slope. Giving in to your inner critic can halt your progress. You’ll succumb to the doubt and always wonder, “if I tried again, would the same results occur?”
That kind of paralyzing fear will get you nowhere. Instead, recall the words of your counsel and your inner wisdom—mistakes will happen. So, announce aloud, “I made a mistake. I’m angry at myself.” Then park it there, shut off the engine, and walk away. The next day, get up and get back to life, and don’t let wasteful, inaccurate, and self-sabotaging inner dialogue slow you down.
7. Learn From Your Mistakes
I’d like you to go back to the idea that mistakes happen and that they happen for a reason so that you can learn what not to do. “I’m angry at myself” should be the motivator to get it right. Stop and explore where the lesson is here. What is one thing you won’t do moving forward? What else did you take away? Perhaps there are people you need to speak with to smooth things over. There may be some course corrections that you need to make to move forward in a more positive direction.
Recently, I participated in a pivotal career conversation that didn’t go well at all. “I’m angry at myself,” I thought, for speaking too much in the moment to try and make things right, where silence would have been the best alternative. I learned from this mistake. Instead of overtalking, sometimes just pausing and listening is all that is needed. Moving forward, I’ve practiced more restraint when needed and have walked away from my professional conversations with better results and more confidence.
8. Take Time for Yourself
“I’m angry at myself” is one of the better motivators to get happy with yourself again. How? Exercise, reset, relaxation, and healthy distractions are just some of your gateways into a better headspace. Too often, people believe that the best way to get over something is to jump right back into it—whatever it is—or wherever your mistake is rooted. While this does work for many, some need a little time and space to sort it all out—and that’s okay. Separating yourself from the situation for a while and taking a mental health break can do wonders to cleanse your spirit. It may also give you some greater clarity.
Right now, you may be too close to the mistake(s) to gain a clear perspective. Remember, it’s okay to step back for a while and clear your head without feeling guilty about taking time for yourself. This mental reset will put some space between you and the mistakes so that you can come back refreshed and in a better state to step up and move forward.
9. Practice Relaxation Skills
Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can do wonders to help you relax and reduce your heightened emotions. Just like exercise, you may discover that this form of release and restoration will not only help you work through your anger but also help you clear your head and restore your confidence. This may also be the time to build your own personal relaxation practice so the next time you make a mistake, you can step into your healing and restorative practice space and quiet your mind, body, and soul.
10. Forgive Yourself
“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” We know this to be true, but don’t always practice it. Forgiveness is the true path to healing. You’ve probably have heard many stories about how this process has helped people come back from a very dark place including recovering from illness.
Forgiveness is powerful and is the only way to move forward. So, I’m going to leave you with this final challenge: how can you transition “I’m angry at myself” to “I forgive myself?”
When you find yourself stewing about all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” that accompany the overarching thought “I’m angry at myself,” you have no more excuses to wallow in the derailing emotion of anger. Experimenting with one or all of the above strategies can help you shorten the period between making a mistake and having a moment of enlightenment. The reckoning that you’re human, you have people that believe in you, you have resources to support you, and you have a golden opportunity to learn and move forward should be all you need to make tomorrow better and your future better.
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Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com