Wouldn’t it be cool if you could learn from your mistakes before you make them? That’s what Viktor Frankl suggests in a quote from his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He says, “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
That’s totally possible, isn’t it? If we just slow down and look down the road a bit, we can see where our path is taking us, can’t we? We can also look behind us and see the outcome of choices already made that can give us clues about the likely outcome of our present choices. Yet why is it that when we get to decision points, we often feel as if we are there for the first time?
Acting from Habit
Sometimes the answer lies with habit. We aren’t actually thinking about what we are doing. We are simply acting from habit. Or maybe we do what we do because that’s what we’ve always done. You know what they say about that? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” If this is you, wake up!
We Want What We Want
Sometimes we are so focused on wanting what we want that we bulldoze ahead. The object of our desire is so powerful that nothing else registers. It’s as if we have tunnel vision. We don’t see consequences, other options, what it might cost us, or how it might impact others. This can lead to lots of avoidable mistakes.
We’re Blinded By Emotion
When we’re emotional, we can talk ourselves into a soup sandwich. It’s amazing the contortions our minds can do to find all the reasons why an emotional decision is what our gut says is the right thing. Knowing the difference between wise mind and emotion mind can help you avoid this trap.
There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Mistakes are teachers. They tell us how not to do something. Mistakes may inspire us to see a better way to do something. They may help us uncover weaknesses. Perhaps they teach things like compassion, patience, daring, forgiveness, or courage. There is no end to what they can teach us.
However, all three obstacles to learning from your mistakes before they happen can be avoided through mindfulness. Mindfulness slows things down so that you see what’s really there, not what you think is there. Mindfulness can help you get out of auto-pilot so that you can choose deliberately. It can help you see the big picture, not just what you want. Mindfulness puts you in wise mind so that your emotion mind doesn’t lead you astray.
When you repeat the same mistakes over and over, it can get frustrating. It can make you feel that you’re stuck, stupid, or wasting time. If you’re there, take a break. Breathe. Slow things down and get mindful. Look at the situation through your mindful eyes. This may help you to make choices that allow you to move forward in a satisfying way.