Talking Mental Health: Mistake Recovery


Does the idea of making a mistake cause a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach? If so, you’re not alone.

Many people try to avoid mistakes at all costs. But what if mistakes were valuable? Mistakes, while scary, are opportunities for us to learn and grow. It is something we will all experience and cannot avoid in life.

Avoiding mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all. It means that you are actually avoiding the risk of trying something new or challenging. Mistakes cultivate creativity and promote problem-solving. Mistakes not only ‘build character,’ but they also build resilience—our ability to recover from stressful and difficult circumstances.

Mistakes are easy to make. They can occur as a result of inattention, mishaps or accidents, misinformation and lack of preparation. They are also more likely to result if you’re not fully prepared or if the challenge is greater than your skills or resources at that time.

Feelings of anxiety and negative self-talk also increase the likelihood  of making a mistake, as they are distracting and damaging to your confidence.

How you recover from mistakes will affect your mood, self-esteem and personal growth.

If you view a mistake as a threat, you’re more likely to avoid or ignore what happened. Ignoring a mistake does not allow you to learn from it, and you risk making the same mistake twice. For some mistakes this can also magnify the consequences of the mistake.

For example, think about sharing incorrect information about a friend. If you do not own up to your mistake then that misinformation has the potential to continue to spread and cause harm.

On the other hand, if you acknowledge and accept responsibility for your mistake then you have the opportunity for ‘damage control’ (if needed) and to learn from the experience. Try not to magnify the significance of a mistake or allow the mistake to overshadow any past successes.

If others are impacted by your mistake, offer an apology and if necessary an explanation. In relationships this provides an opportunity for increased connection, forgiveness and healing.

Feeling embarrassed, angry, or guilty about the mistake is natural. Talk about it with the people in your life that are most likely to respond with understanding, support, and non-judgement.

Just as you need others to respond to you with kindness, you too need to respond compassionately to yourself so you can let go and move on.

Think about the last time you made a mistake. How did you feel about it then, and how do you feel about it now? Usually what seems like a major error becomes a small blip in our life experiences.

More often than not you will have another opportunity to do things differently. It may be in a different class, game, competition or relationship, but it is a rare occasion when you only have one chance.

For further information on this and other topics, please tune into Talking Mental Health on Radio Laurier, visit us at or check out

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