From Oops to Opps: The Mistakes We Make & What we can Learn from Them

We all make mistakes. It’s so easy to do. What’s harder is to admit some of them to others. Here are a few ones to start and what to do:

  • You use the wrong word or tense of a verb in conversation. Let it go!
  • You inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. Walk in their shoes and apologize promptly without excuses.
  • You make a recipe and accidentally leave out the eggs. It’s mush. Throw it out and have a good laugh. Or, you make a recipe and leave out some butter. Try it; it may not make a difference.
  • You flunk your math test. Study harder or find a tutor.
  • You gossiped about someone and now feel terrible but the cat’s out of the bag. Hopefully, the person to whom you gossip won’t repeat it.
  • You wear the wrong shoes to a job interview that hurt your feet. Next time you have to walk from the subway, carry the stilettos in a bag and wear tennis shoes. Change when you get to your destination.
  • You turn the wrong way to get to an appointment, and it makes you late. Pay more attention to where you’re going in a new space or place. Write it down if it helps. 

We make dozens of mistakes every day. Most are minor infractions. Stupid blunders. Then there are those people who work very hard to avoid making a mistake which impacts their lives. They are almost paralyzed when trying to make a big decision. To them, making a mistake (or the wrong choice) is tantamount to failure. Avoidance makes life dull and uninteresting. Albert Einstein summed it up in this aphorism, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” 

Sure, we regret making mistakes and there can be great pain as a result. However, the silver lining is that messing up or making a bad decision can be an opportunity to learn and to grow, unless it’s a hanging offense and there’s no way out. Here a simple, “I’m sorry,” just won’t cut it. 

We have put a few mistakes into categories from minor to the intractable, some of which could result in serious consequences.

Minor infractions with solutions

--Missing a deadline. Don’t avoid facing the deadline issue. Call the editor and explain. Negotiate a new deadline if possible.

--Overspending on a new purse and knowing you’ll have to cut back. Overspending? Budgeting might be one solution and cut back until you pay for the extravagance in full.

--Staying too long in a toxic friendship. If a friendship is unhealthy for you, you might start avoiding the person and decline any invitations to get together. The person may confront you so be prepared to explain why it doesn’t work.

--Making someone wait because you’re late for a lunch date that you forgot about until the last minute. One time they’re late, too bad. You wait. Second time, you’re annoyed but give them a deadline: If you’re not here in 10 minutes, I’m leaving. Third time, you leave and do not make plans with that person again. Maybe, you have a heart to heart later to figure out why they are chronically late.

--Eating too much sugar and dealing with the unhealthy results. One biggie is inflammation. Change your habits if your glucose numbers are soaring into prediabetes territory.

--Forgetting a dear friend’s birthday. Send a belated greeting or call up and apologize but phone is best rather than a quick text. You have a year to do something!

--Using the wrong pronoun. Instead of he/she or him/her, it’s PC to say “they” .Gender neutral is the rule today.

--Making an assumption about anything i.e., someone who doesn’t call or reach out to you and you figure they don’t like you or care about you. Go to the source and ask what’s going on. Maybe, they are ill. Don’t stand on ceremony or hold a grudge.

--Having good fortune turn bad. Investing in cryptocurrency and losing thousands of dollars is one example. As for your bad investment, learn from it . Be patient. Either shift investing gears or wait until the cryptocurrency market improves. Or, if you do win the lottery, save most of the funds rather than spend frivolously and end up in debt as some have.

--Forgetting to change your password regularly and getting hacked. A pain and could be pricey but you learn to do so regularly. 

Regrets but revocable. These are beyond minor but, in most cases, can be mitigated.

-- You pay a bill with a direct withdrawal from your checking account but don’t have enough funds in it to cover the cost. It can be rectified. You call the company and explain you’ll send the remainder of the money by wire transfer. You’ll pay for the wire but it’s minimal cost and you learned a good lesson.

--You mistakenly misspell someone’s name in a story you’re writing, but it’s for a digital publication. Yes, it’s awful and embarrassing, but it can be changed online. Consequence: the publication might not ask you to write for them again. So, check your facts carefully, including quotes.

--You ingested the wrong pill, forgot to take a medication or took much of a drug. If there’s a serious physical reaction, call your doctor for help. If you overdose, call 911 and EMTs hopefully will come in time to the rescue. Try to keep track of what you take when.

--Ignoring mental or physical pain. You feel a lump but hope it goes away. Get it checked out immediately. Avoidance could mean the difference between a happy and fulfilling life or a sad and unnecessary round of tests and treatment.

--You share a secret you promised not to, and it gets back to the person. You apologize and probably won’t be confided in again for a long time. Yes, it was your fault. And you may not be trusted again.

Irreversible but there are options.

--Some mistakes are irreversible such as not flossing your teeth and paying the price later on with expensive and time-consuming treatments to save your teeth. Do what you can in the present. Floss and use the water pic to keep your teeth in the best shape from now on. Go for regular cleanings.

--Sitting in the sun and ruining your skin. Stay out of the sun today. Now you slather on the sunscreen to avoid further problems but cannot repair the damage that exists.

--Family rift. Like Harry and Meghan, you air your family animosity in public and perhaps damage forever the bond. Maybe time will change the hurt feelings. One party might make small attempts over the years to repair the fractious relationship. But know it may never be the same. Start somewhere. Perhaps, they’ll get help with a neutral party acting as facilitator/negotiator.

--Big blunder. What about Joe Biden’s mistake in keeping some classified documents? Simple forgetfulness? He should have owned up to it immediately and been ahead of the story. We’ll see how this plays out. Fortunately for Biden, most people have short memories.

--You leave someone out of a party without realizing it before the event. Invite them late, share that it was an error, not intentional. Hopefully, the person will forgive and come. 

Major infractions that are irrevocable.

--Maybe you had too much to drink but made the decision to drive instead of taking a taxi or having a designated driver. You plow into another car, and someone is badly hurt or even killed. That could result in a conviction and prison time. There’s no going back.

--Under the heading of terrible mistakes, how about Alec Baldwin who aimed a gun he thought was filled with blanks at a cinematographer only to discover the gun held live bullets? He shot and killed her. Stupid mistake, recklessness, criminal negligence? Did he do his due diligence before handling that gun? The charge is involuntary manslaughter. Time and court proceedings will tell.

--What about the Catholic church sweeping pedophilia under the rug for years? The church owned up to it, but many priests were not held accountable. The victims will be damaged for life. What could the church do to make amends beyond money?

--Your partner is physically and emotionally abusive. Get out safely if you can. This type of situation whittles away at your ego to the point that you may start believing your abuser’s attacks. You don’t deserve this. The fallout and effects cannot be erased. You may incur PTSD or even be killed! 

Mistakes are not all bad. Every day we most likely will make them of various magnitudes. There are lessons to be learned from doing so. All one can do is try to make good decisions—don’t drive and look at your cell phone for example, you might make an irrevocable mistake and cause an accident. Most mistakes can be rectified. Learn from them and hope you don’t repeat the same small blunders or worse.  

1 comment

  • Lynn Marks

    How do you possibly come with so many examples every week????!!!!’ And even more , with possible solutions !!!!! Keep ‘‘em coming.

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