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To Err is HUMAN

We all make mistakes. You cannot go through life without making many. Some mistakes are bigger than others and some will have larger consequences than others, but none of us can ever say we have never made a mistake.

Is that a bad thing?


While we would like to avoid the negative consequences of a bad decision, we often learn from our mistakes.

For example, what toddler learns to walk without falling down along the way?

If you watch a young child persistently getting back up and trying again and again to stand or walk, you quickly realise that to fall, is human, as is getting up again.

So, let’s talk about mistakes and how we can use our past mistakes to shape our future.


The man who makes no mistakes

does not usually make anything

-Edward John Phelps

Mistakes Light Up The Brain

Research shows that when we make mistakes and recognise it, our brains light up with chemical activity.

While we may experience this as a sinking feeling, or a face-palm moment, your brain is securely storing the information and it makes a leaves a big impression. Almost as if it is saying: well, let’s not do that again.

A study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, showed that making deliberate mistakes (like writing down the wrong answer to a question and then correcting it) can help improve our memory.

‘Mistakes are our opportunity to grow and to gain knowledge’

One source says: “Mistakes are our opportunity to grow and to gain knowledge. Many people say that they wouldn’t have been where they were in life without making mistakes. The all-important part, though, is learning from them, and understanding how to extract the positives from something that many view as a negative.”

Stop the Blame Game

When you constantly think about mistakes and try to blame someone else, it can put you in a very negative mind-set.

It is even harder, of course when we are the ones to blame. Accepting that we made a mistake is very hard for some people, and they will often try to shift the blame to others, or exaggerate other’s role in the mistake.

For example: Taking on a lot of debt is normally something we decide to do (for a variety of good and bad reasons). When something goes wrong, and we struggle to repay that debt, we may get angry with the credit providers who offered us the credit. Yes, they share some of the blame, but are they the main reason why we have debt?

Rather than blaming others, or ourselves for our mistakes, why not focus on making the most of the bad situation and finding the best way forward. This is a more productive use of our brain power and emotional bandwidth.


People are more likely to forgive others who make mistakes if they bravely, and quickly own up to it.

Not too long ago a Pope famously said the inquisition, and things that went on 350 plus years ago, was a mistake. Oops.

You may not be that impressed since the organisation waited 350 years to apologise. So, it is normally better to promptly admit your mistake and move on.

This can help when one member of a household has a lot of debt that others do not know about. It is better to openly and honestly discuss the matter earlier (choosing a wise time and conditions for such a conversation, of course). Delaying such discussions will not improve the situation.

Get Back Up

When a professional runner, who has trained for months if not years falls during a race, they do not immediately say: “well, that’s it, I can’t go on”.

No, just like that child who is learning to walk, they get back up and get going again.

So, if you have made mistakes that have knocked you down, then get back up and dust yourself off, get going again.

Dont Dwell on Your Mistakes

It is good to learn from mistakes, but to constantly dwell on them is not healthy. Rather, cut yourself some slack, we all make mistakes.

For example, you may have over-committed to debt in the past. You may have taken on debt on behalf of other people. You may have felt your income was so secure that you could handle a large debt burden, only to find out later that things change and paying off debt is much harder than getting into debt.

You cannot let that dominate your thinking or planning. You need to acknowledge the lessons of the past, but be able to look ahead to the future.

‘Constantly dwelling on where you went wrong would be like trying to drive a car, but only look in the rear-view mirror’

Constantly dwelling on where you went wrong would be like trying to drive a car, but only look in the rear-view mirror. That is a recipe for disaster.

Debt Review is not A MISTAKE

Debt review is not easy. Many people start the process and then struggle to make the changes it requires. Living a cash lifestyle in a credit crazy world is hard.

Most of us have learnt to use money to fix problems. Living on less and sticking to a budget takes a lot more work.

Still, if having debt was your problem, then debt review is the solution not a mistake.

‘debt review is the solution not a mistake’

So, stay positive about the process even if it is taking some time. Even if things don’t run smoothly due to the actions of a credit provider, or your Debt Counsellor, stay on target. Keep paying your debt and working towards being debt free. It is worth it.

Don't Repeat Your Mistakes

It goes without saying that we don’t want to make the same mistake over and over. That would indicate that we have not learned from our errors, and are doomed to repeat the cycle.

Rather, we want to be able to see the problem coming and make new, better decisions this time around.

So, if you identify something that you have done or tend to do that is bad for you…chose a new way.

For example, if in the past you would always try to use money to solve an issue quickly and easily, you will find that when money is tight, you are not able to do this and you have to look for sustainable solutions.

In The Future

In the future you will pay off all your debt, you will be debt free, amazing!

Whether you then go out and take on a lot of debt again, or try stick to a debt free lifestyle is up to you. Credit use can open many doors that would otherwise be shut. Debt can also weigh you down again so, use the lessons you learnt while paying off debt to shape your future.

‘use the lessons you learnt while paying off debt to shape your future’

Being over indebted (having more debt than you can repay each month) is tough. It is a hard and stressful way to live, and getting out of debt takes a lot of effort.

Try to learn from the mistakes of your past to shape the decisions of your future.

Note: To read the rest of this issue of Debtfree magazine click next/previous