Bouncing Back From A Mistake That Almost Ruined Your Life—Go Out And Do Something Great


First off, I’ve been that person. I think we all have some mistakes that we wish we could forget. I spent years trying to figure out my life and where I belonged in the great scheme of things and as a result, I made a few blunders that I’m still embarrassed about up to this day. But judging from many of my friends, I’m not the only one. My friend Paula (definitely not her name) had some harrowing stories to tell of her own. I’ll share one with you. On a warm afternoon, Paula and I met up and went over some details about a past mistake that had recently resurfaced. Apparently, she was still suffering from the effects of it. She explained that one evening after leaving a bar she got pulled over for drunk driving. But the horror doesn’t end there, as a result her mug shot was taken, and it went viral (I have to admit she looked ‘pretty hot’ in her photo). Humiliated she discovered three social media sites using her face as meme’s. Mortified she tried to forget the whole debacle, only to have her pictures repeatedly come up. She felt like it was ruining her career.

This might not seem like a big deal to some, but I can feel her pain. I’ve been in some sticky situations a time or two and know how devastating it can be. The only advice I could give her at the time was to tackle it head-on and make peace with it. And if people want to judge her for it, then so what. As long as she’s at peace with her past that’s all that matters. Then I said, “If you really want to give them something to talk about use your mistake towards a good cause.” I suggested she become a spokes-person for driving safely. The objective is to turn a past mistake into something you can be proud of. Lesson learned!

Failing forward. Failure is not an option. Establish that setbacks happen. Recognize that resilience makes you ready to cope with challenges, apply lessons learned and move on. – John C. Maxwell

While that moment of sheer panic is likely enough to inspire you to pack your bags and travel under an alias, you already know that’s not your best course of action. Instead, follow these five steps to bounce back even better than before:

1. Tackle it head-on

Take a deep breath and make it right. It’s always best to take responsibility for your mistake immediately, especially if other people know about it. Deal with the root of the problem and offer a sincere apology. If people choose not to forgive, well at least you tried to own up to it.

Mistake: You’re married and that co-worker that you started daydreaming about at work asked you out for drinks during a company party. By the end of the night, you ended up in his bed, completely hungover…OMG.

Solution? If you’ve cheated on your partner, all hope is not lost. Often times people fantasize about the grass being greener on the other side, which can ruin a good thing. One guy I know loved his wife but missed going out on dates and sleeping with other women. He internalized these feelings for a while and spoke to some of his friends about it and realized that many of them related. Still, I do believe that breach of trust can be repaired with two willing partners, but you have to be willing to face the music. You should tell your partner at once and be ready to explain why it happened. And know that ‘sorry,’ isn’t going to cut it.

2. Forgive Yourself

When you’ve made your apologies to the others involved, the next step is to patch things up with yourself and make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. While your mistake might have impacted other people, consider it a great way to learn from it. And forgiving yourself is one of the ways to do it.

Mistake: You dropped out of college and started up a rock band that went nowhere. Now you feel like a complete disappointment to everyone around you… “I thought I had my life all planned out and that formal education wasn’t important. Now I’m paying the price big time, I should have listened to my folks and gotten a certification in IT as a backup.”

Solution? Life is all about missteps and most of the time we think that a bad decision could ruin everything, and that failure is not an option. But failure is something that can’t be avoided, it’s how our mind works things out. To find a fix to the solution start taking night classes, figure out the things that you’re passionate about, and excel at it.

3. Deal with the Consequence

The first thing one must learn to do is accept the blame and the fact that there are consequences for your actions. Consequences are not from good deeds but poor judgment. So accept that you’re wrong and don’t whine about it.

Mistake: You put your dreams and aspirations aside because you saw everyone around you getting married. You sacrificed everything to be with this person only to find out that you’re dissatisfied with your life.

Solution? For most people, they don’t understand how much work goes into making a marriage work. And if you’re not in a good place with yourself, chances of being in a loveless marriage increases, greatly. That’s why it’s recommended that you work on yourself and find your purpose before choosing a mate. That way you know that life lined you up with the right person. You should feel complete and happy with your life when you find your partner and if that’s not the case, hold off because a man/woman will not fill that void. Emotions are powerful signals that send notifications to your body. They tell us things that we need to fix inside of us and what is important to us.  If you want to start feeling some happiness in your relationship take the focus off your partner, and more on yourself. Here are a few steps to fixing your mistake: put yourself first, know what you want, then start working on it.

4. Grow from it

Mistakes are going to happen, but we cannot live in the fear of mistakes. When mistakes do happen, it’s important to think about how we can grow from it and learn to avoid making it again. And you can’t do that if you’re constantly beating yourself up about what happened. It’s also important to take away something positive from your mistake. Bouncing back is hard, but you can bounce back with a better perspective on things.

Mistake: You bailed on amazing opportunities and life-changing experiences—some of them might have spearheaded your career—to stay with a girl you spent 1 year with…who you eventually broke up with…oops

Solution? Chances are we’ve all made the mistake of passing on an opportunity that proved to be highly lucrative for us. But dwelling on the mistakes and obsessing over how you could have prevented it is both counterproductive and can negatively impact your self-esteem. Lugging around too many regrets can impact your ability to see new opportunities. The best approach is to recognize what happened, what headspace you were in, and then keep track of aspects you should pay more attention to in the future. Negative emotions such as neediness, insecurities, doubt, fear, and so forth can keep us from some great opportunities. Trust me, if someone is meant to be in your life, you’ll naturally share the same goals, and it won’t feel like you are choosing between one over the other. As I’ve previously mentioned in my other articles, when someone is aligned with you spiritually, they naturally support your dreams.

5. Give back

Forgiving yourself is a way to let it go and move on. However, you can take your mistakes and use them for good. Use it as a testimony and talk to others about what you’ve learned. Yes, it can be easier said than done. But continuing to obsess over your failures and shortcomings won’t help you grow. It’ll likely distract you from reaching your fullest potential.

Mistake: You made some bad decisions in your youth. You started using a credit card in 2013. Now you’re over 50k in debt. It’s taken you five years to pay it off. Now you never want to go into debt again.

Solution? While you’re feeling great about your accomplishments, brainstorm on ways to give back to people in similar situations. Develop a course on how to get out of debt and share it with your community. When you think about it, it’s important to do this because a.) insures you don’t make the same mistake again, b.) it helps you heal.

The truth is, a mistake can’t defeat you unless you let it. You can only do your best in life, but even that won’t be enough to win the day. That’s okay, though. Any person who’s lived long enough will tell you, failing and recovering can be frustrating but if you can stay the course even if you’re a little worse for wear–you’ll be just fine!


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