You will be a rare person who’s only ever had one romantic relationship in their life, and even rarer if you’ve had multiple relationships where no mistakes have ever been made. The fact is, mistakes, slip ups, indiscretions, whatever you want to call them, they all happen. We deal with them by learning, moving on and applying the knowledge to new situations we find ourselves in.
Here I’ve compiled a list of some top tips for learning from your mistakes, so that in the future it’s only new ones you’re dealing with, and not repeats of the past.
Acknowledge what went wrong
This can be a lot more difficult than it sounds and can take a lot more work than expected. If a mistake has been made it’s easy to look at it superficially and not think deeply about what lead to it, especially if it’s one that we hear about every day, such as infidelity, couples growing apart or not putting each other first.
If you’re not clear about how the mistake was made, or about what caused it, then this leaves massive scope for it to happen time and time again. Acknowledging what went wrong means being self-aware, being honest and sometimes dealing with painful admissions about yourself and those you love.
Even if you don’t particularly want to deal with a problem just yet, at least by seeing it for what it is you’ll be able to recognise it, if you see it returning. In this situation you can at the very least alter your response to it.
Mistakes don’t often occur in isolation and if you think hard enough, there will usually be some other life event or pattern that it can be linked to. Your inability to not speak up could stem from a childhood where you were rewarded for being seen and not heard. Or, your fear of commitment may be found not only in romantic relationships, but also your career and friendships.
When patterns are uncovered it’s unnerving to realise how long you’ve been subject to them without realising it. Whether the pattern has roots in your own childhood or is a behaviour you’ve since been conditioned to accept, it is possible to undo.
Think about each time you feel a particular issue has influenced your life and imagine what someone else, without your conditioning, may have done. It could be they would have walked away, spoken up, or acted faster. Once you can identify what someone else may do in your situation, it’s time to consider whether you can learn from this awakening and use it to make better choices.
Seek opinions (if you must)
Having an outside perspective is sometimes frowned upon in relationships. Letting people in on your personal business is not a move to take lightly and is a choice that needs to be carefully considered. People, no matter how similar in background or how long you’ve known them, can respond very differently to the same situation. If you are going to seek an alternative perspective, then make sure it’s one you truly value.
When asking the opinion of others, be extremely clear on the input you’re requesting. Are you wanting them to comment on the entirety of your relationship, or just this one mistake that you’re currently dealing with? Be wary also of constantly asking for advice that you rarely implement. Watching a friend repeatedly make the same mistake is tough, having exactly the same conversation about how they can stop making them, is frustrating.
The number one mistake that people make without fail, is moving on without properly allowing old wounds to heal. Attempting to begin a new relationship without healing from the past one is like breaking a leg and trying to play football before it’s properly reset. You’re never going to heal from the original issue and you’ll simply keep doing more and more damage to yourself, becoming less and less useful to your team mates around you.
The most sensible move to make ironically, is one of stillness. Don’t rush into anything too quickly, learn to love yourself again, to trust in people again and to act in accordance with the type of person you want to be.