What can you say about the mistakes you have made?

How do you respond when you know you have made a mistake?

When I reflect back on my life, some of the biggest ‘mistakes’ I’ve made have provided the biggest lessons. Of course, my understanding of this only came after the pain and shame of not being perfect, subsided. I used to work overtime to avoid making mistakes at all costs.

As I grew I began to realize that…

Making mistakes doesn’t mean you are unworthy. It simply means you are human. @Terri_Cole  {CLICK TO TWEET}

We all make mistakes. How you respond and what you do next, dictates how much you learn. Most people have difficulty admitting their mistakes and moving on from them. Mistakes can become part of the negative story about yourself that you keep alive by re-telling and mentally reliving them. This can go on for days, months or an entire lifetime.


The only value in dissecting your mistakes, is to gain insight into yourself and your behavior. Hopefully that insight will ensure that you won’t find yourself there again and again. The process of learning from mistakes is pretty simple.

Mess up. Admit it. Analyze it. Release it. @Terri_Cole  {CLICK TO TWEET}

The process becomes more complicated if you deny your mistake. Denial can come in the form of making excuses, being defensive or outright lying. We all know people who never own it, don’t apologize and blame others. We know them but we don’t respect or trust them.

I know, because I used to be one of them. During my senior year in college, I started seeing a therapist, who was amazing but a little blunt for a girl raised in a WASPy family. She said it like it was, which was foreign and slightly disturbing as there were many topics that were off limits in my family home. After telling her a story that included, as a sidebar, the fact that I had been running late for my campus job and instead of telling the truth, I concocted a flat tire story as the reason for my tardiness. She calmly said, “Ok, so we have now established that you are a person who lies instead of taking responsibility for your actions.” And I was like, “Whoa, hold up there lady! It is not exactly lying!” and she said, “Actually it is exactly lying.” She went on to help me see the value of keeping my word, speaking my truth and being accountable for actions (mistakes and all!).

Working on accountability is a worthwhile, lifelong practice. Forgiving yourself is an essential part of being able to grow from your experiences. In order to forgive yourself you need a new perspective. I often ask my clients to consider their mistake as if their best friend or child had made it. I ask them how they would handle that situation; how they might console the person they loved. I then suggest using that same kind of language and behavior towards themselves. There is nothing wrong with reminding yourself that ‘it was a mistake anyone could have made,’ or that ‘if you knew better you would have done better.’ The more compassion you can bring to yourself, as difficult as it may feel, the easier owning your mistakes will become.

As you reflect on your life, you may now be able to see that many of the mistakes you have made, were no big deal. Then there are those that may still be haunting you. Begin forgiving yourself now for all that you have done. Do this with lots of love. Know that it can take time, but remember to keep perspective. Also remember that continued shame and blame serves no one. It’s time to let go, learn and free yourself by forgiving yourself.

Now take a moment to share with our community one mistake you are willing to forgive yourself for. I look forward to connecting with you in the comments below and as always, take care of you.

Love Love Love





*image courtesy of Terrance Heath

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  1. I didn’t do my full research and ended up in a life/death situation. I forgive myself for not checking fully on the recovery process and not knowing that there were several potential risks when you decide to “buy health for less”….Do over can never happen however I can learn to be compassionate with myself for going ahead with it. I did my best with the amount of information I was able to gather. I was able to get through the worst and have come out of it with new perspective. Not just on decision making but many other aspects of my life.

    1. MauiJOY,
      Forgiveness of ourselves can be the most challenging and yet once you do it, it will liberate you. So keep up the good work, learn from all mistakes and move on. Great job!

  2. I have been working on trying to forgive myself so I can move on in certain areas in my life. I have never thought about how I would talk to a close friend or a child if they had made the same mistake!!! What a fantastic idea. I am going home tonight to try it on myself. I know this will help a lot. THANK YOU!

  3. This is something that I know intellectually, but emotionally it’s difficult to do. Beating myself up for mistakes is my default, although I’m working on it. Your tip is a very helpful reminder, thanks!

    1. Ami,
      Thank you for your comment. The beauty of transformation is that we have the power to change our minds AND our default positions. So now that you want to change it stays committed to actually changing it. You can do it! xo

  4. yeah i still do that and then i get so embarrassed that its like the weight of mistake is going to crush me. I am trying to change that and your video helps, thanks alot.

  5. I use to be an atrocious liar. It was something I needed as a defense mechanism. I grew up in an abusive house hold, where even if I told the truth I was called a liar and beaten. Do I still have issues? Am I struggling with my own self? You bet, but I also own up to all the mistakes I made and trying to be a better person.

    Sometimes Terri I wish you were a therapist near me. *hugs* Thank you for bringing lots of things in to prospective.


    1. Cassandra,
      Consider this a virtual ((Hug)) You are doing fine work and I hope you feel proud. This type of transformation is not for sissies! It is hard and painful work but the rewards are worth it. You lied to survive as a kid, this is adaptive. As you grew up it became maladaptive and unnecessary so you are handling it. You inspire me. I am so grateful you are here xo

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