The Three Halves of a Mistake

It is natural in life to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do other people, because only we can control our actions and our decisions, empowering us to believe that with the aid of rationality and helping hand of common sense, it is possible to fulfill a relatively flawless life. When we do something to interrupt this, namely, when we make a mistake, it is easy to question our own credibility as good people. It is easy to believe that we are not the people we once thought we were, because the way our lives are altered after making a mistake is not what we had planned on or intended for. Sometimes, we forget that that our actions have consequences.

One of the hardest things to accept sometimes is that we are bound to make mistakes. Oftentimes, a mistake can be looked at as a three-part event. The first “seeable” part is the action itself. The second is the most crucial—the consequence of what we have done, which sometimes in turn, causes us to question the type of person that we are. Do we recognize the person that could possibly generate that sort of negative effect? Consequence requires action or lack of action—we either choose to address the issue, or we sit idly by. Even choosing to do nothing is a decision. Yet however wrong we may have been, we should never believe that we deserve any less than what we have been given, for everything good and bad that has been placed before us has been done so for a reason. It has been placed before us as a result of the way that we have set up our lives. Sometimes, we are presented with something great that we inevitably lose through our own doing, but other times, we are presented with something great that we lose but are able to win back.

This is where the third “half,” or the unseen part of a mistake, comes into play: the ability to grow. For just as our lives could potentially be altered by the negative, they can just as easily—though not as quickly—be altered by the positive. Humans are often viewed as inherently flawed, yet we are hardly looked at as inherently capable of healing and growth. A mistake, though its negative consequences are most easily seen, also provides the potential and the opportunity for growth. The notion that we are inherently flawed also includes the notion that we have the capabilities to fix these flaws. In the great balance of life, our growth potential balances out the inevitability of making mistakes.

Seeing the good in a mistake is not an excuse for making the mistake, but it is rather optimizing the wrong that has been done—it is about bringing to bear the circumstances that we have placed ourselves in, and realizing that because the voice of action speaks loud and clear, we can counter mistake with growth, use right action to correct wrong action, passion to mend mistake, and learn that sometimes it is okay to fight fire with fire.


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