What to do when you fucked up

Today I fucked up.

Not the oh no I fucked up and forgot to buy milk type. And no I didn’t completely mess up the rest of my life type either – i.e. calling Kim Jung Un a fishcake while visiting North Korea.

But I fucked up somewhere in between. 

You know when you want to do something, and you know you shouldn’t do it, and there’s that little voice in your head telling you not to do it….

But then you do it. You might feel like the kid in the picture after doing it, it feels good, but then there are consequences. The ones that come back to bite you, that little voice in your head is suddenly a lot louder going ‘’I told you so!”

I’ve had plenty of small fuck up experiences-

  • That one extra beer with friends. “You’ve hit your limit” “Don’t do it you’re going to be hungover!” Next day – massive headache and feeling terrible. Potentially have to call in sick to work.  

  • The last piece of cake. Mmmmmmm hmmmm. Delicious at the  time. Waddled around feeling fat and guilty for the next day, ending up at the gym doing boring cardio for that moment of pleasure.

  • In a casino- “I’ll make it all back….” or… “Im winning I can make more!” – both mindsets lead you to *Place bet*. And the house always has the edge… 

What can you do about it?

If it’s a fairly serious error, you can try make amends it if it’s worth the effort (NB in the context of gambling, if you’ve lost money, I personally do not recommend gambling more to win it back though).

But maybe you were flirting with someone else and you got caught by your other half, he/she finds out and there is a massive argument and you want to make amends, think about how best to do it.

At the heart of it though – it is best to come at the issue with a positive attitude- and view whatever happened as a learning opportunity.

Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s done. You’ve eaten that extra piece of cake/drunk the beer/ placed the bet and you’ve either won or lost. Yes in this case you can go get a job to earn back the money lost, work out to make to compensate, and yes you are probably kicking yourself and thinking you are an idiot- but its gone and in the past. (I’ve written an article on how to stop your mind racing here –  you need to do this step first, your mind is probably flipping out over your fuckup).

Are you alive? Yes. Will it materially impact the rest of your life? Unless its an unwanted pregnancy, or you called Kim Jung a fishcake while in North Korea, no.

Yes whatever you did might be slightly inconvenient and at the time you might think it’s the end of the world, but it’s okay, you fucked up, everyone fucks up once in a while.  

What you can do now, using your new found skills of mindfulness (free guide to developing this here) is reflect on what you did and look at the motivations for why you did it. Yes “you are an idiot” might pop into your head a few times, that’s the scolding we give ourselves to not do things again, like put your hand over a fire.

If framed as a learning opportunity- your mind will focus on growth and development, which is productive and will help you in the future rather than dwelling on the negatives. Dwelling on what an idiot you are and what you’ve done is useless.

Focus in on what went wrong, analyse it with a constructive and positive mindset, and try not to do it again.

For example- if you are a struggling alcoholic, look into habits and how to break them. What are your triggers – work out your motivation for why you want to give up. Is there anything in particular that triggers you to do the undesirable action?

Maybe you notice whenever you meet up with friends, it is always for drinks. If all of your friends like to drink, try ordering a non-alcoholic beverage. If your friends laugh, just say you’re off alcohol for the day.

It might be because you are feeling depressed about something. And hence the term ‘drown your sorrows’ – many people turn to the bottle. Work out exactly what it is that is getting you down, drinking is a temporary fix.  

Once you’ve analysed the route and the trigger to your behaviour of whatever you are trying to change- next, experiment and see if you can get yourself not to do that behaviour again.

Try different methods and yes you might try and you might fail, but not trying at all means 0% chance of success, trying means you have a chance of success, even if it’s only 1%, it is better than 0.  

Alternatively, you can learn how not to give a sh*t no matter how bad you’ve fucked up – reasons why is well written by an author I read ; David @ raptitude – his article is here https://www.raptitude.com/2014/07/not-giving-a-shit/

Side story- my friend fucked up?

I had a friend at university, we were in halls on campus and really fancied this girl in our halls for the entire year and didn’t say anything.

Last night before we all moved out for the academic year, he got really drunk, drunk messaged the girl saying how much he liked her on facebook message.

She rejected him and he felt like he totally fucked up and was embarrassed for a day or two as other people heard about it. But actually to me, I don’t believe he fucked up. He gave it a shot (albeit with lots of alcohol and doesn’t remember writing the message), but he won’t spend the rest of his life thinking ‘what if’.

In the end I think he’s got married to a nice girl, had he not ‘fucked up’ that night he maybe would have spent another 2 years chasing after her without realising she didn’t feel the same way.  

It’s all about perception, view your “mistake” as a learning opportunity 🙂


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