Understanding the Difference Between a Mistake and a Bad Choice

A mistake vs a bad choice

You can never make the same mistake twice. The second time around, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.” Many people live life in a state of chaos and confusion. Most often, these are the folks who always blame their failures on mistakes. It causes me to wonder whether they made mistakes or simply bad choices. Some people don’t understand the difference. 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.

So what is the difference?

Suppose you went to eat at a restaurant and your meal caused you to have a violent allergic reaction. This would be an instance where a mistake was made. You were unaware of the potential repercussions of eating that particular food. Being unaware of your allergic tendencies to the food 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 from previous experience needed to avoid negative consequences. Now suppose you returned to the same restaurant two weeks later and order the very same meal. Knowing you had a serious allergic reaction to the food the last time, your actions could not be labeled a mistake. That would be an example of a bad choice.

Use past experience as a teacher

I realize this analogy is simple, but I think you get the point. Mistakes you make in life because of being unaware of the certain negative consequences should be used teaching moments. You should learn from the mistakes and resolve to never repeat those actions again. If the same actions resulting in negative consequences were repeated, you would be doing it knowing the  potential repercussions. If a baby reaches out and touches something very hot, that baby makes a mental note to never again touch the thing that caused pain.

Why is it many adults never learn from their mistakes, and keep repeating actions leading to unnecessary pain? Too many people label their faulty actions mistakes, when in actuality they made a bad choice. Maybe in labeling their actions 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.

Sometimes people you befriend in life are bad influences. Some folks will cause you to stay in a state of turmoil, and will drag you down with them. If you have people in your life like that, you made a mistake by associating yourself with them. If you continue to associate them, you have nobody to blame but yourself for the negative consequences that come about. Continuing to associate with them shifts from being a mistake to a choice.

Learning from a mistake brings change

After learning from our mistakes, we must take action to change. Living life in a manner that you know poses potential serious problems is not living a life full of mistakes; it’s living a life full of bad choices. If a heavy smoker gets lung cancer from smoking, their smoking cannot be labeled a mistake. It has to be labeled a bad choice. It is a bad choice because it has been clinically proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer. There are warnings on packs of cigarettes about the health risks involved with smoking. I don’t buy it when a smoker who develops lung cancer says they made a mistake by smoking. A smoker is aware of the dangers of smoking when they light up. Yet, they make the bad choice of ignoring the risks involved.

Don’t let a past mistake keep you afraid to try again

Mistakes are sometimes unavoidable because we don’t realize our actions will result in negative consequences. We have all made mistakes. I have made more mistakes than I can count. We shouldn’t let past mistakes make us afraid to get up and try again. Instead, we should use our past mistakes as guides to teach us and drive us to a better life. Someone once said we should use our past mistakes as guideposts not hitching posts. We must be honest with ourselves in order to determine whether we are making mistakes or bad choices.

Often mistakes are unavoidable because we lack the facts based on previous experience. Once we have faced a crisis  because of a mistake, then anything involving those same actions becomes a choice. Unlike mistakes, we have control over our choices. Don’t spend days, months, or years of your life in regret about past mistakes. 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,


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