Is It A Mistake Or Simply A Bad Choice?

 

I once heard a quote that said, “You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.” There is a great deal of truth in that statement. I have lost count of how many times I have seen people whose lives are in a state of chaos and confusion, who if and when they do come to their senses at any given time, tend to label their failures as mistakes. When these same people claim that their failures in life were brought about by mistakes, it causes me to wonder whether they made mistakes or simply bad choices. Some people do not seem to be able to understand the difference. It is my opinion that there is definitely a difference between a mistake and a bad choice. If you will allow me a few moments, I will explain my viewpoints.

I will use a very simplistic analogy to explain the difference between a mistake and a bad choice. Suppose you went to eat at a restaurant and you ordered a meal with food that caused you to have a violent allergic reaction after you ate it. This would be an instance where a mistake was made because you were unaware of the repercussions that would occur as a result of your eating that particular food. Because you were unaware that you had any allergic tendencies to the food that you ate, you did not hesitate to order it. This would be an example of a mistake. A mistake occurs when a person lacks the information or knowledge based on previous experience that is necessary to avoid actions that result in negative consequences. Now if you were to go back to the same restaurant two weeks later and order the very same meal, knowing that you had a serious allergic reaction to the food the last time you ate it, that could not be labeled a mistake. That would be called a bad choice. Now I realize that this is a very simplistic analogy, but I think you get the point. When we make mistakes in life because we were unaware of the certain negative consequences that will follow, we should use that time in our life as a teaching moment to ourselves and resolve to never repeat those same actions again.  If at some other time in our life we did repeat the same actions that brought about the negative consequences, we would be doing it with full knowledge of the repercussions that were a result of those actions the last time. If a baby were to reach out and touch something that is very hot, that baby would make a mental note that would cause them to never want to touch the thing that caused them pain ever again. Why is it then that so many adults never learn from their mistakes,and keep repeating the same stupid actions over and over again, only to experience unnecessary pain? Too many people want to say that they made a mistake when in actuality what they made was a bad choice. I suppose that in labeling their actions as a mistake, it creates room for them to blame someone else for their failures and misfortunes. If they say they made a mistake, they can always say, “Well nobody told me…” This type of logic is insane. If you embrace a person or group of people as friends that end up being a bad influence in your life, cause you to always be in a state of turmoil, and tend to drag you down with them, you can rest assure that you made a mistake by associating yourself with them. Now if you continue to associate with those same people, you have nobody to blame but yourself for whatever negative repercussions come about in your life. Continuing to associate with them would shift from being a mistake to a choice.

When we make mistakes that cause turmoil in our lives, once we realize our mistakes, we must take action to change. Continuing to take actions in life that you know are bound to bring about problems is not living a life full of mistakes; it’s living a life full of bad choices. If someone is a heavy smoker and ends up getting lung cancer as a result of their smoking, their smoking cannot be labeled a mistake. It has to be labeled a bad choice. It would be labeled a bad choice because it has been clinically proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer and there are even warnings on packs of cigarettes about the health risks involved with smoking. For a smoker to say they made a mistake by smoking, and that is why they developed lung cancer…I don’t buy that. A smoker is aware of the dangers of smoking when they light up, but they are making the bad choice of ignoring the risks involved.

The thing about mistakes is that they are often unavoidable because we simply do not know that our actions will result in negative consequences. We have all made mistakes. I have made more mistakes in my life than I can count. We should not let past mistakes keep us so bound up by fear that we are afraid to get up and try again, but we should use our past mistakes as guides to teach us and drive us to a better life. Someone once said that we should use our past mistakes as guideposts not hitching posts. The key thought that I want to leave you with is that we have to be honest with ourselves in order to determine whether we are making mistakes or simply bad choices. Often mistakes are something that we have no control over because we don’t have all the facts based on previous experience. Once we have faced a crisis in life because of a mistake that we have made, then anything involving those same actions becomes a choice. Unlike mistakes, we do have control over our choices. Don’t spend days, months, or years of your life in regret about mistakes that you have made. Forget your mistakes but never forget the lessons that they provide. Your mistakes can serve as a means for you to make better choices in the future. Remember, “You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.”

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark

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