How to Overcome Bad Feelings After Making a Mistake: 10 Steps

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How to Overcome Bad Feelings After Making a Mistake: 10 Steps
How to Overcome Bad Feelings After Making a Mistake: 10 Steps

"No one is perfect." "Everyone makes mistakes." We all know the truth, but guilt, remorse, and shame about wrongdoing can be persistent and painful. Forgiving yourself is often the most difficult form of forgiveness. Whether your mistakes are big or small, you need to accept and rise from them for your own well-being (and those of those around you). Always remember: you will make mistakes; You can let it pass; and learn from those mistakes.


Part 1 of 3: Admitting Mistakes

Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 1
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 1

Step 1. Admit mistakes honestly

You won't be able to move on from mistakes if you can't face them. You need to clearly identify the error, what caused it, and your responsibilities.

  • This is not the time to make excuses. You may be having a lot of distractions or a lot of stress at that time, but that doesn't change the reality of your actions. Don't blame other people, even if you can. You can only control your role in any wrongdoing, and you need to accept that as your fault.
  • We can sometimes use guilt as a barrier so that we don't accept the consequences of that mistake. If we have punished ourselves with guilt, maybe others won't punish us either. If you want to move on from the past, you have to accept the consequences, and punishing yourself won't get rid of those consequences.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 2
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 2

Step 2. Tell me about your feelings and the things you encountered

You may be quite embarrassed to admit your mistakes, let alone tell others. However, even if it's awkward at first, sharing your mistakes and how you feel is often a key step in letting go and moving on from the past.

  • There will come a time when you will talk to the person(s) who have suffered as a result of your mistakes, but first you need to admit it to a friend, therapist, spiritual director, or someone else you trust.
  • This may seem silly, but frankly admitting mistakes, especially to others, is often important in the process of accepting them.
  • Talking about mistakes also reminds you that we've all made mistakes, and therefore no one is perfect. We all know the truth, but we easily forget it when we are wrong.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 3
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 3

Step 3. Make repairs

After you admit the fault to yourself and others who have suffered because of the mistake, the next step is to try to fix the mistake as best as possible. In doing so, you may find that your mistakes are not a big deal to deal with at first. And, if it's a big problem, fixing it will help you put an end to the problem and you can move on from the past.

  • In short, the sooner you fix the error, the better. For example, if you make a mistake at work that hurts the company and/or someone, it's best to tell your boss right away - but give yourself time to figure out how to fix the mistake. Don't let the blame get worse because it's not resolved, so that your guilt builds up and makes the aggrieved party resentful or angry.
  • Sometimes your mistakes don't hurt a particular person, or hurt someone who's gone so they don't need your apology and correction. For example, maybe you thought you were too busy to visit Grandma, and now she's gone. In such cases, you can "continue the good deed" by helping others in a similar situation, or doing good deeds in general. Perhaps, for example, you could volunteer at a home for people in need, or decide to spend more time with elderly relatives.

Part 2 of 3: Learning from Mistakes

Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 4
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 4

Step 1. Analyze the error so you can learn from it

It may seem an unnecessary punishment to delve into the details of your mistakes, but observing them closely is the best way to turn mistakes into a learning experience. Most mistakes are worth it if you learn and get better from them.

  • Investigate the root cause of your error, such as jealousy (thus being rude) or impatient (thus getting a speeding ticket). Name the error such as jealousy or impatience so that it is easier for you to find a solution.
  • Remember: choosing to learn from mistakes is a path to growth; wallowing in self-blame and regret will only stagnate your personality.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 5
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 5

Step 2. Create an action plan

Identifying the cause of your mistakes is the only step so you can truly learn from them. It's not enough to just say "I won't do it again" without intending to make changes that can be made that prevent you from repeating the same or similar mistakes.

  • You don't automatically learn from mistakes by analyzing the details and admitting your mistakes, but it is an important step. Think especially about what actions you could have done differently in the situation, and plan specifically what you could have done differently the next time you were faced with a similar scenario.
  • Take the time to actually write down an "action plan" for another time. It will really help you visualize and prepare to avoid the same mistakes.
  • For example, let's say you forgot to pick up your friend from the airport because you burdened yourself with taking on so many responsibilities that you forgot a lot of things. Once you've identified the issue (and apologize to your friends!), create an action plan to better organize and prioritize your responsibilities when things get really busy. And also think about how to say "no" when you already have a lot of responsibilities.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 6
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 6

Step 3. Fix habits that lead to repetition

Many of the common mistakes we make, from overeating to yelling at our partner for no apparent reason, can be categorized as bad habits. To prevent these mistakes from happening again, you need to identify and correct the habits that caused them.

  • Trying to identify and correct all of your bad habits to create a "new you" can be exciting, but it's best to take it easy and focus on one habit at a time. After all, what are the chances of you quitting smoking and spending more time with your mother at the same time? Instead, try to focus on eliminating one bad habit, then consider your readiness to tackle another.
  • Make changes as simple as possible. The more complex your plans for eliminating bad habits are, the more likely they are to fail. If you want to get up early because you are often late for work and for important meetings, go to bed early and/or set an alarm clock in your room ten minutes ahead.
  • Find ways to fill the voids that arise from your old habits. Fill it with positive things, like exercising, spending time with your kids, or volunteering.

Part 3 of 3: Letting Go of the Mistakes

Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 7
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 7

Step 1. Don't be too hard on yourself

Many people who have a hard time moving on from their mistakes suffer from having excessive expectations of themselves. It's good to set high standards for a habit, but demanding perfection on yourself will only hurt you and those close to you.

  • Ask yourself, “Is this mistake really as bad as what I did?” If you observe it honestly, often the answer is "no." When the answer is “yes,” all you can do is emphasize to yourself that you learned a lot from this mistake.
  • Show compassion for yourself, as you would have compassion on others. Consider whether you would treat your best friend harshly if she made the exact same mistake. Most likely, you will show compassion and support. In this case, remember that you should really be a good friend to yourself, and act with compassion.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 8
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 8

Step 2. Forgive yourself

Forgiving others for their transgressions is sometimes very difficult, but it is often easier than forgiving yourself for even the smallest of mistakes. If, as the saying goes, “sorry starts at home,” then you need to be able to start with yourself.

  • You may think this is a silly obligation, but it helps to say sorry to yourself - for example by actually saying "I forgive myself for spending borrowed money on a fun night on the town." Some people find that writing mistakes and self-apologies on a piece of paper, then crumpling and throwing it away, is equally effective.
  • Forgiving yourself is a reminder that you are not your fault. You are not a mistake, a mistake, or a flaw. Instead, you are an imperfect being who makes mistakes like everyone else, and grows because of them.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 9
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 9

Step 3. Take care of yourself and those around you

If you're struggling to let go of a mistake, remind yourself that holding onto it is bad for your health and hurting those closest to you as well. For the sake of your own body and those of your loved ones, you need to work on letting go of past mistakes.

  • When you feel guilty, chemicals are released in your body that can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, and interfere with digestion, muscle relaxation, and critical thinking skills. Excessive guilt can really damage your health.
  • The saying "unhappy people hang out with their flocks" is true, because people who can't free themselves from guilt tend to drag everyone around them into feeling unhappy together. You are likely to be quiet and more critical of others because of guilt over your mistakes, and your spouse, children, friends, and even pets may suffer the consequences.
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 10
Not Feel Bad Because of a Mistake Step 10

Step 4. Move on

Once you've admitted your mistakes, done your best to correct them and forgive yourself, you should let them go and not have to worry about them anymore. It's better if it's just a useful lesson for you to move forward.

  • If you notice your mind wandering back to your guilt and guilt, remind yourself that you've been forgiven. Say it out loud if necessary to remind yourself that the problem is solved.
  • Some people find it helpful in the process to use the technique of refocusing positive emotions (Emotion Refocusing Technique or PERT). To do this, close your eyes and take two deep, long, meaningful breaths. On the third breath, start imagining either the person you really care about or the image of nature's beauty and serenity. As you continue to breathe, explore this “happy place” and take your guilt with you. Find a path to let go and find peace in this space, then open your eyes and let go of your guilt.
  • Moving on from your mistakes will help you live a life without regrets. Remember, it's better to learn from mistakes than regret not trying. What applies to toddlers learning to walk or children learning to ride a bicycle applies to adults when they make mistakes: falling is part of practice, and getting up to try again is progress.


  • The reality is that when you make mistakes, there are lessons to be learned.
  • Accepting responsibility is liberating. Yes, it is hard to admit that you are guilty. But it shows strength, courage, and commitment to being a great person. In other words, it shows respect. By doing so, it appears that you value yourself.

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