When Mistakes Become Decisions

"When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it's a decision." Paulo Coehlo

We all make mistakes. And for the most part, we should forgive ourselves our mistakes because mistakes are really there to give us an opportunity to grow and learn. Yet if we find ourselves repeating our mistakes over and over, we have to begin to wonder whether we’ve established a pattern of excusing our mistakes and avoiding responsibility. When we repeat our mistakes, they no longer become mistakes. Even our decision to do nothing different is a choice. We can’t keep hiding behind our mistakes as a way to excuse responsibility for the condition our life. Indeed, many of us don’t even recognize that our mistakes are a matter of choice. We feel like we are either being driven by outside forces or can’t help our emotional responses to certain circumstances. We may decide to fall back into a relationship we know doesn’t serve us or, perhaps lash out repeatedly at those we love. And while we may spot our mistakes and even apologize or retract our positions – if we want to change and live our lives in accordance with our dreams, it becomes important that we recognize that after we repeat a mistake, it now becomes a choice. In many ways, accepting that our mistakes are really choices can be empowering. When we realize that we alone are the only thing standing in our way, it becomes easier to clear the obstacles and stop creating the exact circumstances that lead us to the mistake in the first instance. When we label our actions a mistake, we allow ourselves to put on the blinders of an excuse and remain stuck. We bury our heads in inaction and fall further down the hole of denial. Equally, when we own our actions, it is almost as if we’ve become liberated. We break free of the bonds of our past and can suddenly choose to take a different course – the one that seemed so impossible all along now becomes the easy choice.

Weekly Path to Peace: Make decisions, not mistakes.

  • How many times have you said you’ve made a mistake, but deep down recognize that it is becoming a pattern? Is it with your relationships, health, career, friendships or other? Identify all the ways your mistakes have now become decisions. The first step toward changing our habits begins with honesty and awareness of all actions – so allow yourself to be open without judging what you see.
  • Decide to differently this week. If you see you have repeatedly made mistakes in one area of your life, take a step toward doing things differently. How can you get out of your own way? Do you need to have that conversation one more time, or can you simply let it go and trust? Can you ignore someone’s text and establish a clear boundary? Just decide one small thing you can do differently – it doesn’t have to be huge!

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.