How Not to Beat Yourself Up When You Make a Mistake

As the late, great Hannah Montana once said: Everybody makes mistakes.

Seriously, though—there's not one person on earth who can be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. Even knowing that, however, it's still hard not to set yourself down a path of self-loathing at the smallest error.

So how do you break the cycle of endlessly shaming yourself every time you mess up? Keep scrolling for our best tips on how not to beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

1. Realize That Mistakes Are Inevitable

We've said it once and we'll say it again—nobody's perfect. If you're truly putting effort into something, mistakes are bound to happen. They're frustrating and deeply disheartening, but they also show that you're really trying. Not only that, they're an opportunity to learn, grow and understand what you shouldn't do in the future. Once you realize that mistakes are bound to happen, you'll be much better equipped to handle your mess-ups and much less likely to beat yourself up after every blunder.

Alice in Wonderland: Alice bored and frustrated

(Alice in Wonderland via Walt Disney Pictures)


2. Focus on Positive Self-Affirmations

If you're devolving into a cycle of self-loathing, the best way to challenge that behavior is to simply do the opposite—think about yourself positively. Now, we're not saying you need to recite affirming lines into the mirror every morning (though that is an effective way to build self-esteem), but making a conscious effort to shift your negative thinking to positive judgements will have a huge impact on allowing you to let go of your mistakes.

When you recognize that you're thinking negative thoughts about yourself, take a moment to switch to a positive mindset. Instead of convincing yourself that you can never do anything right, focus on actions you've taken that have had a beneficial impact. Recognizing those critical thoughts and making an effort to think of yourself in a constructive and encouraging manner will go a long way towards allowing you to move on from and let go of your mistakes.


3. Treat Yourself Like You Would Treat a Friend

In reality, all of us know that mistakes are just a natural part of life. Therefore, if someone you're close to messes up, you spend your time comforting them and explaining why they shouldn't be upset, not telling them over and over again how terrible their mistake is. So why don't we show ourselves that same courtesy?

When you make a mistake, talk to yourself as you would a close friend. Remind yourself that it's not the end of the world, that these things happen and that everything will turn out okay in the end. It's much too easy for us to get mad at ourselves, so reacting to your mistake as you would respond to a close friend helps you to treat yourself with kindness and support, which we all forget to do way too often.


4. Be Patient With Yourself

We often beat ourselves up over our mistakes when we just seem to make the same blunders over and over again. However, each time you make a mistake, there's a chance to learn from it. If it's a habit or thought-process that's deeply rooted in your mind and behaviors, it's going to take a while to change. Remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to improve. Spiraling into a pit of self-loathing will only hinder your progress, whereas reminding yourself that you're one step closer to breaking your bad habit will give you the encouragement you need to keep working towards your goal.

Mulan: Mulan dressed up with her face in her hand

(Mulan via Walt Disney Pictures)


5. Understand That You Can't Change It

Once a mistake has been made, it can't be changed. Big or small, your error is now in the past. Obsessing over it only serves to keep you from moving forward and trying to do better next time. If you're beating yourself up for a mistake, you're keeping yourself trapped in the past and limiting your chances to move forward. Mistakes are frustrating, but the only way to make a difference is to accept that you messed up, move on and try not to repeat your error in the future.


6. Practice Self-Care

We tend to beat ourselves up over our mistakes because we're simply not giving ourselves the time and attention we deserve. It's easy to start a cycle of self-loathing when you're feeling tired, burned-out and just generally "meh" about everything in your life. Sometimes the best way to break the cycle of self-hatred is simply to engage in a little self-care. Take a long bath, read a good book, get a manicure—basically, just spend a little time focusing on yourself, calming your mind and relaxing your expectations. Chilling out might just be the remedy you need to let go of the bad thoughts and move forward.


Looking for more tips on managing your emotions? Click HERE for our tips on how to calm down when you're super angry.