How to Learn From Your Mistakes

How to Learn From Your Mistakes

In your everyday life, you make mistakes of different kinds. You make a stupid mistake such as spilling tea on your friend’s T-shirt; simple mistake such as driving on one-way because you were talking on phone; avoidable mistake such as missing a deadline; or unavoidable mistake such as failing to meet the sales target.

Some mistakes are accidental, they just happen. You can avoid some mistakes if you become more careful. Some mistakes are complicated, you cannot avoid them, however, the next time you are doing the same thing or attempting new thing, you can learn from the mistake you committed on your previous attempt.

If you accept your mistakes, you will…

Develop self-esteem

Become more courageous

Have an ability to face challenges

Operant Conditioning: The Theory of Learning From Mistakes

There are many learning theories. Operant Conditioning or Instrumental Conditioning is a learning theory that is associated with learning from mistakes. It was propounded by American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike (1874 – 1949) and developed by another American psychologist B. F. Skinner (1904 –1990). In a classic experiment, Thorndike placed a cat in a box with one opening. The door would open when a certain area of the box was pressed. The cat runs vigorously here and there, and in the process, it presses the area of the box that opens the door. The cat is again placed inside the box. It tries to remember how the door was opened the last time. After a while, it finds the secret. With each experiment, cat unlocks the door faster because it has learned from its previous attempt.

Operant means how animals (including man) respond to certain situation. Operant Conditioning deals with learning about the consequences of actions in response to the environment. Human beings learn like Thorndike’s cat in the experiment. Every day they commit mistakes, and the next time when they are doing the same thing, they will try to avoid the mistake they made in the previous attempt. The natural consequences of previous actions will teach a man and woman to do things differently; he/she will avoid negative actions and repeat positive actions.



  • Don’t run after success, don’t be afraid of failure.
  • You can learn many things from your mistakes.
  • It’s okay to fail. Failure is the first step towards the path of success.
  • Become an able person and success will follow you like a shadow.


How to Learn From Your Mistakes

Admit your mistakes

As the old saying goes to err is human, mistakes are parts of your life. There is nothing wrong in committing mistakes because mistakes are unintentional. However, if you don’t admit your mistakes and blame others (mortal and immortals), there might be something wrong in your perception and behavior. You will never learn a lesson, when you don’t admit your mistakes,

Don’t be ashamed of failures and mistakes

Guilt associated with failures and mistakes is prevalent in every country and culture. Parents, teachers, friends, colleagues and the boss always remind you to be ashamed of your failures and mistakes. You begin to feel guilty for your actions, which later results in inability to do it again, or try new things. Feeling guilty for your failures and mistakes is counterproductive. On the other hand, if you understand failures and mistakes as natural occurrences, you will discover your true potentials.

Analyze your mistakes

Mistakes will teach you, but first and foremost, you must analyze your mistakes. Some mistakes are serious where as some are frivolous. What kind of mistakes did you commit? Did you make a simple and stupid mistake such as dropping a china plate? If you did this unintentionally, it is just an accident. You can easily avoid some mistakes such as being late on your date. Your late arrival may anger your partner, but you could have avoided this if you had time management skills. Some mistakes are inevitable. Despite your intent and hard work, you may not be able to reach your set goal.

Bigger the mistake, greater the lesson

You can always minimize the frequency of simple mistakes. However, serious mistakes are unavoidable. What you can do is accept serious mistakes and channelize your failures to learn a life’s lesson. If your mistake is associated with the bad decision you took while choosing a career, you will gain nothing by crying over the spilled milk. Next time when you are faced with similar challenge, analyze your past mistake and make a decision wisely. Evaluate the sequence of events prior to committing mistake. If you can be critical towards yourself, you will never fail in your life.

make mistake

Change your thoughts and actions

Everyone is guided by his/her own perceptions. Everyone has his/her own way of doing things. You commit mistakes because of your own thoughts and actions. In order to avoid similar kind of mistakes, you have to change your perception and behavior. Some people are tough, they don’t want to change. Nevertheless, toughness over the ideas and behavior that prompt you to commit mistakes will take you nowhere. Perhaps, you lost your job because you flirted with your boss’s spouse. You can avoid this kind of situation, if you change your behavior. Maybe, the mistake was because of your thoughtless remark. Change your bad habit, if you have any, to avoid new mistakes in the future.

Respect other people’s opinion

Perhaps you committed mistake because you did not pay heed to the advice from your friends or family. Remember, you cannot always be right. You must involve other people in your decision-making. Always be ready to accept opinions and advice from the people who matter in your life. Contrarily, the mistake could be a result of bad advice from a dishonest colleague. Your mistake you will teach you to stay away from bad people.

Learn from others

If you have an eye to judge, you can always find people, events and things that can inspire and teach you. Look at the people who handled similar situation and succeeded. You don’t have to imitate them, but if you engage yourself in meaning dialogue, you can get an idea on how to do things in a proper way. Always apply what you have learned. Time is a great teacher, you can learn from your experience. Emulate good ideas. Nurture good habits.

Are you prone to mistake?

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