How to stop dwelling on your mistakes.
David Talley
May 8th, 2017

Making mistakes really, really sucks. 

I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up for things that were infinitesimally smaller and less important than how I thought they were. For a long time, it had a hold on me and literally stopped me from progressing personally, interpersonally, financially and creatively.

I struggle heavily with perfectionism in my day-to-day life - thinking about how so many things in my life need to be a perfect, certain way. That I know better than anyone else around me. That I can do it “right,” and if no one else can understand that or do it the same as I did, then they’re wrong.

This type of thinking for me has been toxic. I recently had a great conversation with my friend, Evan about this subject. Evan is a lot like me in this area - since we’re both self-employed photographers who think through problems logically, we tend to see a clear path that only we can manage ourselves. One of the walk-away sentiments from that conversation was the idea of dwelling on mistakes, and how doing so can become a literal roadblock to success in any area of your life.

Here’s the thing - in my opinion, in my experience, the only thing that dwelling on my mistakes has ever done for me has been a stopping point. You can't change what already happened. You can either apologize and move on, or fix it, apologize, and move on. My mistakes, no matter how small, become nothing more than a focal point where I pour negative energy in and get it right back out.

There’s this old German proverb, it goes something like:

“If you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything.”

If I want to learn how to progress through my business, if I want to learn how to move forward from the things that I’ve done wrong, I have to learn how to embrace mistakes instead of fighting and fighting and fighting to either never have them or dwell on them once they’ve happened.

I’ll repeat it.

We have to learn to embrace mistakes.

Otherwise, how can we EVER make progress? I have this idea that we never actually have to “learn” about anything in the traditional sense when you’re an artist or entrepreneur. I think instead, it’s much better to just go out and do, do, do, and learn by failing or succeeding by doing. That way, you’re making progress while learning. Not just learning and not applying that knowledge.

So how do stop dwelling on our mistakes?

You don’t take things personally. I try to do this as often as I can - it makes my life a lot easier when I make a mistake and I attribute it not to my own self worth, but instead to a misstep, a lack of understanding or skill, or a lack of communication. This has taken a lot of personal growth for me to be able to achieve this, and sometimes it’s still hard for me to do this, but this is my number one rule when it comes to dealing with mistakes.

No matter what your goal is, you’re always learning and growing. I think we have a tendency to want to be further ahead than we actually are in our craft, but the truth is that expectation is often much higher than reality - and it shows up in the way we treat ourselves when we don’t perform at the level with think we should.

It’s a bit of a dichotomy - knowing you’ll never be fully satisfied with your goals because new goals always pop up once your reach the first goal. However, the only way you *can* reach that first goal is by simply not being so hard on yourself in the road to getting there.

Your body and mind are a vessel for you to accomplish your goals - so don’t try and crash, batter, or smash the car. Keep it in tact and running well. Focus on the road ahead, don’t take your mistakes so personally or emotionally, fix or forgive, and move on.

Let’s do this. 

I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.