I’ve made some pretty bad choices. We all make bad choices, it’s what you do with those choices (and their consequences). The most natural thing is to regret and wish to correct them; everyone, besides John Wayne Gacy, does that. It’s good to recognize what you did as wrong and regret it, that’s a good first step. A small step, but still a step.
Learning from your mistakes has pretty much turned into a cliché these days. I think that’s glossing over some very difficult steps, personally, and it’s misleading. It makes it sound so simple and makes one feel like an absolute idiot if they can’t just do it. Maybe it’s a little easier if you actually know what that entails. A tiny itsy bit easier. I don’t know about you, but if I have a list of things to do (and if it’s something new, listed steps of how to do said things) I am way more likely to do them than if a broad general task is given (i.e. “clean the house!” vs. “Here’s a list of all that needs cleaned to what depth”). I’m not claiming to have this all figured out, but I believe that I am on to something with what I’ve got, and it’s helping me; maybe it will help you.
I think a step in learning from your mistakes is recognizing that you made them. You did. Now if you didn’t know that what you were doing wasn’t a good idea, then I think that’s a different story and you don’t do that again. Bam, mistake learned from, now go eat some fries. But I’m talking about doing stuff you know to be a bad idea, but you do it anyway. It is so easy (so easy that I [and I am sure I’m not alone in this] do it automatically) to lay the fault at someone (or something) else’s feet. You know, “If Tommy wasn’t so mean, I wouldn’t have punched him”, “I haven’t been sleeping well because The Office is so addictive” (I’ve said that), “If my superior (boss, parent, etc.) wouldn’t be so strict, I wouldn’t rebel as much”, or “It was staring at me, so I put it in the microwave!” Okay, that last one is a little extreme, but you know what I’m talking about. You might not even realize that you’re blaming others, and don’t feel too weird if that’s the case; it’s pretty normal. Now I will say that factors do play into our decisions, of course they do. For example, if you eat too much junk food, and you discover that because you drive past a Frito’s plant everyday you are smelling the salty pieces of Heaven. thus triggering your desire for salty oily goodness. Now you understand why it’s so easy to make that choice, but it’s still your choice. You chose the chips, they don’t chose you.
Okay, so you’ve taken ownership of your choice to do whatever you did. Now what? Honestly, I don’t really know. I think it all depends on the situation. In some situations, now is a good time to take a look back to see what led you to make that choice and take steps to avoid that from getting your attention again. In others, you’ve learned enough to never do that mistake again. In still others, you’re at the very beginning of changing the way you approach life. That’s all I’ve got right now. I’m now regretting not having any Frito’s or chips or any kind in my cupboards because I really want some.