Learning from the Past: How to Use Past Mistakes to Make Better Decisions in Your Future

Throughout our lives we will make mistakes. Some of us will make more than others, and still others will feel like all they make is one mistake after another. We are human. It is our nature to be imperfect, and as such, we cannot be flawless in our decision-making. What we can do, however, is learn from those mistakes so that we make better decisions in the future.

Before being able to learn from the mistakes in your past, you have to be able to honestly and non-defensively look back and examine instances in your past when you made self-sabotaging and self-esteem-lowering life choices because

1.    Your choices weren’t well thought out;

2.    Your emotions clouded your best judgment; or

3.    There was some other decision-making breakdown or flaw.

Once you acknowledge the mistakes you have made, you can move on to learning valuable life lessons from them. In preparation for a future life-choice opportunity, review and think through what went awry the last time you made a self-defeating or self-destructive life-choice!  Take time to decide on what will be a more constructive or beneficial way to handle a similar choice the next time around. Essentially, you will be creating some inner conversations that acknowledge a flawed life choice was made in the past and identify a more effectively thought out strategy for your future.

To illustrate, let’s consider an example. Suppose you had made a past decision to drive under the influence of alcohol, which resulted in you getting a DUI. The inner dialogue for a better future decision might go something like this:

“The last time I was offered too much alcohol at a party/dinner, I continued drinking because I wanted to be social and it seemed harmless at the time. The lapse in judgment resulted in my getting a DUI and I lost my license. It was awful and devastating in many ways.

Next time, after one drink, I will resolutely say, ‘No thanks!’  I don’t want to risk the unthinkable consequences should I lose my license again, and this time, permanently!  Nor do I want to risk the far worse consequence of injuring my children, myself, or someone else should I get into an accident while driving drunk!”

The key to learning from your mistakes is to acknowledge the mistake in the past and develop a revised and significantly more beneficial game plan to implement in the future. The aim of these steps is to secure a far more desirable result the next time a life choice involving a particular stimulus is presented.

Toxic Emotions: What they are and how they affect you

As the founder of Life Choice Psychology™, I have counseled thousands of individuals over the course of thirty years. I have helped them master the toxic emotions that get in the way of making life choices that lead to goal achievement, fulfillment, and living the life they desire.

But what exactly do I mean by toxic emotions? Like a toxic chemical or poison that would physically affect your health, toxic emotions are those that damage you mentally. They can be very evident in their expression or they can lie buried in the deep recesses of your mind, making you unaware of the damaging affect they are having on you.

Among the toxic emotions that are prevalent and damaging are these:

Rejection
This toxic emotion can impact your confidence and self-esteem. Also, studies have shown that rejection can actually cause physical responses that increase a person’s risk for asthma, depression, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.

Disappointment
Suffering from disappointment can lead some people to wallow in blame or frustration or even become depressed. There is a debated theory called the disappointment affect that links immune system compromise to the experience of disappointment in optimists.

Anger and/or Rage
A person who experiences anger or bouts of rage lives with a nearly constant heightened stress level. The physical damage stress can cause to the human body is well known. From an emotional aspect, anger and rage stands in the way of having healthy, meaningful relationships and can affect a person’s ability to maintain a job and therefore take care of him- or herself.

Betrayal
Whether you have been betrayed or you have betrayed another, the psychological affects can be debilitating. Loss of trust extends beyond the parties involved and can make it more difficult to establish trust with others. Experiencing betrayal causes great distress on both sides, which certainly impacts life choices during that time and, potentially, long after.

Shame
People who have shame erroneously feel that they are bad people. They also tend to avoid social interactions and can become isolated. It is easy to see how this type of perspective and behavior can cause harm in a person’s life.

This list is not exhaustive but will give you a sense of the types of emotions that can be labeled toxic. My 7 Steps to Emotion Mastery system presented in Your Killer Emotions teaches you how to tackle these toxic emotions and make them your allies rather than your enemies.

Ken Lindner in the Starr Report

TV talent uber-agent Ken Lindner, who’s authored several books, is pumped up for his next offering, “Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You.”

In his new book, out Jan. 1, Lindner says he will show readers “how to channel the energy charges from their positive and negative emotions, so that they are inevitably led to make life choices that are consistent with their most cherished goals and dreams.”

Lindner is a graduate of Harvard and Cornell Law School, and founder of Life-Choice Psychology. His firm’s clients include Matt LauerNancy O’DellRobin MeadeMario Lopez and Lester Holt.

The book, Ken says, is his attempt “to truly make a difference on a grand scale.” He’s also written “Broadcasting Realities” — which was updated last year to “The New Broadcasting Realities” — and “Crunch Time: 8 Steps to Making the Right Life Decisions At The Right Times.”

(This excerpt originally appeared in a Starr Report, by Michael Starr, on www.nypost.com, December 18, 2012)