The Messiness of Mistakes

Mistakes… we all make them right? They’re only human right? 

So then why are they so difficult for us to deal with. Whether it’s us beating ourselves up for making them or it’s struggling to handle it when someone else makes them, many of us struggle with how we handle mistakes. 

Responsibility and Accountability

When we make mistakes, we can divert attention, shut down, avoid, get defensive, etc. I often call this ego fencing. We block our ego in to protect ourselves from feeling bad about ourselves. Here’s the thing about ego fencing, it doesn’t really work. If you’re fighting to defend yourself at all costs, you’re actually doing that because you have some real doubts about something about you. That’s why you’re defending to begin with! Those crummy voices inside how label you as irresponsible, lazy, unworthy, etc. are always around whether they are using words or not. Without awareness, these voices will take over your life and relationships. 

The best way to change this is to learn how to hold yourself accountable. The bravest words people can say:

  • I fucked up.
  • I am sorry.
  • Tell me more about what I did and how it impacted you. 

None of these things should be followed by a “but” or a defense. Instead, true accountability is learning to sit with the mistake. That’s painful. It’s vulnerable. It makes us cringe. However, you can also learn more about the other person and yourself which can enhance your connection. 


Accountability takes trust. You can be accountable to yourself, which means you have to put trust in yourself to grow and learn from what has happened. But it also requires trust in other people. The sad truth is that some will see your accountability as a weakness to take advantage of and exploit. However, true friends will encourage you to share and open up so that you can grow and heal. Identify the difference.


Yuck. This is the feeling that really wreaks havoc isn’t it. But it’s a necessarily feeling to learn how to deal with. And by deal with, I don’t mean stuff it away. Shame is our fear of disconnection. But oddly, if you stuff it away, you’re going to feel more disconnected. Articles and books have been written about this topic, but here are some quick reminders.

  1. Learn to identify the feeling of shame when it hits.
  2. Share it with someone who you trust. 
  3. Differentiate your feelings from who you are as a person by reminding yourself of your values. 
  4. Let the feeling in your body pass. No feeling lasts forever. 
  5. Don’t work on renegotiating in relationships when you’re feeling shame.


It feels crummy to deal with mistakes. Keep that in mind when people in your life make them. Be generous where you can. Encourage people around you to share how they feel about their mistakes and what they got from it. Obviously, it’s important to have boundaries as well. Sometimes people will make a mistake that crosses a red line for you. That’s OK. But if it doesn’t cross that red line, work on balancing accepting your hurt, while also being open to your friend or partners growth.


What is there to learn from in the mistake? What changes are you willing to make? What did you learn about yourself? The answer to these questions is gold. So much amazing stuff to learn about yourself. 


If you’re struggling to move past the shame of mistakes or let mistakes go, feel free to contact us to learn more about how we can help.