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The One Mistake People Make When Learning From Their Mistakes

The One Mistake People Make When Learning From Their Mistakes


    If you’re reading this blog (and particularly this post), it’s safe to say that you are into self-improvement.

    Who else would want to correct mistakes they might be making when learning from their mistakes.

    We can all agree that part of achieving personal mastery is to transform mistakes, failures and setbacks into learning opportunities that will make us stronger for the future. Mistakes are great because we just can’t learn that much from our successes but what most people don’t realize is that when they are learning from their negative experiences, they may be inadvertently making a harmful mistake.

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    One summer, I was riding my bike around the block when a few kids from another neighborhood asked to ride my bicycle and agreed to let me hold one of their bicycles for insurance. I had a bad feeling but I was young and naive so I agreed. After the first child rode off with my bike, they proceeded to push me aside and took their bike back and rode off. After trying to chase them for several blocks to no avail, I decided to head home, devastated.

    What I didn’t mention in the beginning of this story was that it was actually my older brother’s bicycle. He had just put on some new brakes and this was the first time he let me take it out for a ride. I delayed going home because I was so afraid to tell my brother for fear of retaliation but luckily for me and to my surprise, my brother was very caring and understanding. He didn’t even yell at me.

    Needless to say, I learned a lesson that day: Don’t lend my bicycle to strangers and more generally, trust my intuition.

    This experience strengthened me as a person but when I was learning from this, I made one big mistake: I held on to the negative experience to remind myself of the lesson.

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    I used to think it was necessary to vividly replay the “negative” experience to remind myself of the lesson I learned. I feared that if I forgot about the mistake, I would forget the valuable lesson.

    What I didn’t realize was that by replaying the negative experience, I was actually filling my mind with negative thoughts such as shame, humiliation, and helplessness — all of which are not great ingredients for building a healthy self-image. When you repeat this type of thinking in a habitual way, even if your intentions are good, you’re going to experience lower self-esteem because that’s what you’re subconsciously feeding into your mind.

    Mistakes are a necessary step to learning but once the lesson is learned, there is no need to dwell on the actual experience itself. The focus should be on the lesson and how you will apply this positive takeaway to other situations in the future.

    What’s scary is that parents unknowingly lower the self esteem of their kids by reminding them of their mistakes. I hear it all the time:

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    “Johnny, remember the time when you didn’t listen to your mother and touched the stove and burned your hand really badly?”

    or…

    “Lisa is always tripping over things. She is the clumsy one in the family.”

    I understand that the parents’ intentions are good, but good intentions do not necessarily translate into positive behaviors. When someone close to you makes a recurring mistake, focus on clarifying the lesson in the mistake and stop reminding that person of the actual mistake.

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    Remember the lesson, forget the experience.

    (Photo credit: Fixing a Mistake via Shutterstock)

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    Robert Chen

    Executive Coach

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    Last Updated on January 3, 2020

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

    The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

    1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

    Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

     I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

    To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

    And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

     2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

    Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

    3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

    Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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    4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

    The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

    5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

    Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

    6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

    Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

    7. Positive people smile a lot!

    When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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    8. People who are positive are great communicators.

    They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

    9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

    One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

    10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

    Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

    How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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    I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

    Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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