Skip to main content

Living and Learning From Mistakes

Marilyn Briant's The Pax Principles is a Red Ribbon Winner 2020 The Wishing Shelf Book Awards and Bronze Medal Winner Living Now Awards 2021


Who Has Not Made Mistakes?

I believe it would be hard to find someone who thinks they have not made any mistakes in their life. I can certainly admit to having made my share. Sometimes I even wonder if I have made more than most! Perhaps it is this fact that so often helps stop me from being critical and judgmental.

Even so, I admit there are times when I am tempted to fall into my “old” ways. When I am listening to a conversation in which someone is criticizing others, I feel a pull to join in. Or if a friend shares judgmental thoughts about what someone else has said or done, I want to agree and start gossiping about other people’s behavior. But the truth is I rarely do this.

Instead, I remind myself I really don’t want to go there. I acknowledge that contributing to the negative energy in the world is not what I want to do. I affirm I am choosing not to be critical, and I will not judge myself or others.

After all, it only takes a moment to reflect on my own past actions and then to decide I want to consider another’s words and actions from a place of understanding and love. Not fear. Because I know perceiving things without judgment—from my heart—is what feels good. Is what gives me more peace.

Mistakes Are Not Failures

Of course, it has not always been easy to do this. But what helps is thinking about my own behavior. Recognizing that my own mistakes are not failures—that they were actually helpful in helping me learn and grow. I didn’t need to feel bad because what I had said and done was not loving or helpful to me or others. And I did not need to blame myself for what I thought of as poor judgment or selfish, unkind ways.

I just needed to forgive myself. To understand that acknowledging my own mistakes did not have to mean I felt guilty or ashamed about what I had done. It could serve to simply encourage me to form an intention to be kinder and more accepting. To be less judgmental. It could help me move on with peace in my heart, recognizing the value of what I learned.

After all, what is the point of dwelling on the past—on what we did and what we could have done? Isn’t it far more beneficial to review our actions without shaming and blaming, withholding judgment but deciding to do things differently going forward? And, if our behavior seems to have caused someone else’s distress or hurt, wouldn’t it be more compassionate to be forgiving to ourselves and send loving energy or light to both ourselves and them?

Judging Ourselves and Others Is Not Helpful

Remember that old saying: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? This is what often comes into my mind when I observe my own judgmental thoughts. Haven’t I done things I feel are wrong? Why am I criticizing others when I have done similar things?

And here is another thought: How can I know what someone else says or does is or isn’t a mistake? What makes me think I know what they need to learn from the path they are taking?

Maybe the truth is there are no mistakes. After all, if what we have done provided opportunities to learn and grow, doesn’t it bring us closer to knowing and living from who we really are? And doesn’t it help us make better decisions now, help us become stronger?

Perceiving There Are No Mistakes

Yes, I think it is more helpful to perceive they weren’t mistakes at all. There is nothing wrong with learning about what is important, what feels good. With understanding that I don't need to judge myself or others. Thinking about past decisions as having failed or having let myself or others down, means I am holding on to negative energy. It is draining and soul-destroying. It simply isn’t helpful.

Having regrets too, only takes away from the peace I have found. Takes me away from recognizing how much awareness I have gained. From knowing I have grown stronger from the experiences.

It feels good to simply accept and let go of the past. It feels good to perceive most things—including mistakes—with love and compassion. And it is more positive to allow the mistakes to guide me in making better choices.

As I readily admit, it isn’t easy to change. My fear-filled ego loves to point a finger at all that is wrong with me, others and the world. It wants me to feel bad, to disturb my peace.

But I know I don’t want that for myself. I want to accept that every unpleasant and disturbing situation is helping me live from my heart. I want only to acknowledge how much I have learned from them.

I want to focus on making better choices, allowing the past to teach me how to live in the now. To choose to be non-judgmental—to come from my best self and feel peace.

Related Articles