Many of us have suffered hurt or loss emotionally, mentally, or financially from mistakes or poor judgment and if we are honest with ourselves sometimes we fall prey even spiritually not once or twice but several times. If we are rational beings, how come we trip up over the same issues over and over again?
Some psychologists have suggested when we make repeated mistakes we develop a ‘learning’ of that mistake. So like a dangerous cycle, we could develop a habit of mistakes that becomes more entrenched with every occurrence.
Again the assumption is that we are rational beings and capable of objectively seeing our situation. Let me leave a quotation right here without any further comment.
‘We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.’
Somehow, however, we seem to get the message immediately when we suffer physical pain and recoil from harmful situations in an instant. I guess there is no rationalization of a punctured or burnt finger.
After some 62+ years, I am still enrolled in ‘Life’s University of Hard Knocks’ with graduation nowhere in sight, but let me share some things I have noticed so far.
- Call a ‘timeout’ as soon as the pattern repeats itself. Just stop, pause and acknowledge where you are. This is regardless of the ‘whys’ and who is to blame.
- Get a coach versus your ‘best friend’. Friends are great to console and lean on in times of hurt, disappointment, and distress. If you truly want to learn from the mistake, find a coach or mentor who will give you frank, unbiased feedback. A coach will also work with you on a plan for the way out and will keep you accountable in the process of recovery. Some of my best outcomes occurred when I sought out a coach.
- Embark on a journey of self-discovery. During this timeout or pause, it is a good time to try some new things. Learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, learn to play an instrument or a new sport. It can be a time for personal growth and also a time to rethink and refine values and priorities. I remember when I ended a 3-year relationship and thought I just needed someone different as I couldn’t deal with the idiosyncrasies of that person. I did a timeout of about two years before entering another relationship, but guess what? It was the same old me and no clearer about who I was and the sort of person I wanted to connect with. You do have to know yourself before you can genuinely give yourself. I entered a long-term relationship in which I had to make repeated compromises to my detriment.
- Embrace personal change. Charles Darwin said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change’. While I don’t see eye to eye with Darwin’s theory of evolution, I believe there is a seminal truth to this statement. Just as how doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is considered insanity according to Einstein, so too expect a new outcome in our circumstances if there is no personal change. We may need to toughen up emotionally, adopt a more frugal lifestyle if it’s a spending issue, or even something as simple as being true to ourselves in a relationship.
Here’s the final sauce which might help the learning process. As ego-threatening as it might sound, you’ll need a dash of humility in the mix. Don’t get hung up on yourself, laugh, live and love.