How To Handle Making Mistakes

Table of Contents

We’re all only human, and all human beings make mistakes. Everybody. Sometimes mistakes happen because we’re unprepared or because we didn’t think. Sometimes it’s not even really our fault. In those cases, we still have to take responsibility for our mistakes. But we must also remember that everyone from every walk of life makes mistakes. 

Whatever kind of mistakes we have made, or are making, there are plenty of things we can do to capitalize on the lessons our mistakes can provide us. We may even be able to do some things to set right our little wrongs. 

Be Gentle

The first thing to remember when it comes to handling the mistakes we’ve made is to be gentle — not only gentle to ourselves, but especially to those who have been affected by our mistakes. We must treat everyone involved with kindness. 

Making mistakes is never fun, but each time we miss the mark we are given an opportunity to learn and grow. The lessons available in our follies must also be taken gently. Making mistakes doesn’t mean that we’re stupid or cursed or bad people. It simply means that we’re human, and we have room to grow. So we must be gentle with ourselves, accept that we’ve slipped up, and do our best to be kind to ourselves and those affected by our mistakes.

Forgive Yourself

Right on the heels of being gentle with yourself and others comes the need for forgiveness. This can be an especially difficult thing for alcoholics and addicts to do, but it is necessary that we at least try. Forgiving ourselves, along with anyone else involved who needs forgiving, is a vital step on the road toward freedom and growth. Learning from the mistakes we’ve made can be tremendous when it comes to helping us gain freedom and grow as individuals, but only if we forgive ourselves for our mistakes and have some gratitude for the opportunity to learn. 

Take the Opportunity

After we’ve forgiven ourselves, we can more easily see our mistakes for what they really are: an opportunity to learn, grow, and be better next time. Our mistakes can be a beautiful bridge to a better version of ourselves. We only need to see and treat our mistakes as the opportunity they really are. 

If we take this view of our mistakes, we can begin to capitalize on the lessons they provide. We can listen to the feedback our mistakes are giving us. We can see the areas where we still have room to improve. We can identify unhelpful and harmful patterns. And we can begin to apply our 12-Step work in these areas to help ourselves grow out of repeating such mistakes. 

Especially if there is a mistake we keep making over and over, this pattern can really open our eyes to character defects that need an active application of the 12-Step process. Repeated mistakes are often signals of character defects that we are holding on to — therefore, this can be a big opportunity to achieve some major freedom and growth via the Twelve Steps. 

Mistakes really are opportunities to grow and improve if we change the way we view them. Mistakes may be painful, but they can still be valuable lessons and inspiring chances to do and be better. 

Take the Time You Need

Sometimes we can take our own mistakes pretty hard. We beat ourselves for repeating a mistake or chastise ourselves for not knowing better before we made the mistake. Of course, sometimes mistakes are how we learn. How else could we know if we didn’t try? Making mistakes does not mean we are bad or stupid or unteachable. Mistakes simply mean that we are human, and we are not perfect. Nobody is.

But we must be careful not to punish ourselves too harshly for our mistakes. There are likely other people involved in or affected by our mistakes as well. Those people deserve our kindness as much as we do for ourselves. Nobody likes making mistakes, and nobody likes being affected by them either. Everyone involved — including ourselves — needs kindness, forgiveness, and time. We must make sure we take the time to properly process the situation we find ourselves in after we’ve made a mistake. 

Ask For Help

This can be the hardest part about making a mistake: asking for help. We will often need the help of someone unaffected by the mistake to help us see clearly what we did wrong, how we can avoid repeating it, and how we can go about making it right. We will also likely need help discovering the lessons held within our mistakes and capitalizing on the opportunity for growth. All this help can come in the form of working the Twelve Steps on our mistakes. 

Fix What You Can

Once we have forgiven ourselves and everyone else involved, taken the time to be kind, and sought out lessons and opportunities for growth, we are left with our final order of business: doing what we can to make things right. Again, the 12-Step process is our steadfast ally, as the process for righting our wrongs is built right into the Twelve Steps themselves. 

Whenever we make a mistake, we should take it through the inventory process, which will naturally lead us to the amends process. Each of these steps will not only help us learn but help us grow, and ultimately help us make things right wherever we can. 

The recovery community at Jaywalker Lodge understands that we are all only human. We all make mistakes sometimes, even in our recovery. But our mistakes don’t have to be the end of the world — instead, we can look at them as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. We can even learn how to stop repeating our most persistent mistakes and prevent ourselves from making mistakes in the future. Jaywalker Lodge knows that the best way to do this is to fully invest ourselves in the 12-Step program of recovery. By working the Twelve Steps with our sponsor, we are given the chance to learn and grow from our mistakes. Remember, the Steps are all about freedom and recovery, and this includes freedom and recovery from our mistakes. The Twelve Steps will even empower us to right our wrongs wherever possible. If you are ready to learn and grow while finding freedom and recovery from alcoholism and addiction, Jaywalker Lodge is ready to help you. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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