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.

Fear: The Highly Potent Affect Fear Has on Decision Making

A few years ago a friend of mine, Danielle, came to me for help about a problem she was having. She had become separated from her husband due in large part to his destructive and unsavory behavior that had caused him to be out of work for over five years. The couple’s savings were severely drained and they were living primarily on Danielle’s income as a real-estate broker.

The recession hit and had a huge impact on Danielle’s business. Her father implored her to get out of real estate and into a job with steady income and security. Danielle was scared and panicked. She was totally responsible for her son’s financial support and she was in real trouble, but the thought of working at a boring corporate job made her cringe. She had worked so hard to build up her real-estate business and hated to walk away from it. For the first time in her life, she felt like she was being forced to make a snap decision and she was terrified.

When you are overcome with fear or panic and have to make a decision, one of two things happen:

1.    You’re frozen by your fear, so you can’t or don’t think or act rationally; or

2.    You react without thinking clearly and take an inappropriate or, worse, a self-sabotaging action.

I am told that many years ago an experiment was conducted with mice in a cage in order to learn how they would react to facing the unknown. As I understand it, one-half of the cage floor on which the mice were standing was electrified. At various intervals, the feet of the mice were shocked, which made them jump and squeal in pain. After the mice received a series of shocks, the middle of the cage was opened so that the mice could flee to the other side of the cage, with the possibility that they could escape the shocks. The incredible result of this experiment was that not one mouse went over to the other side of the cage in order to avoid the shocks.

For our purposes, at least two conclusions can be drawn from this study:

1.    The fear of physical pain was preferred by or less daunting to the mice than was the fear of the unknown or the fear of change; and

2.    The fear of the unknown seemed to be intellectually crippling to the mice, as it appears to have caused them not to think or act rationally. This may be one reason why not one mouse ventured over to the other side of the cage to see if “life” over there would be less painful.

When Danielle contacted me, she was virtually paralyzed by her fear and unable to think, reason, choose, or act productively. I encouraged her to slow down, relax, and think things out rationally and clearly. She eventually was able to decide on a career path that would meet her financial and personal requirements and was able to continue supporting herself and her son, her most potent Gold.

When you are filled with fear and are panicked, avoid making life decisions.  The fear will get in the way of making the best choice, which could have a lasting impact on your life.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Foundations of The 7 Steps to Emotion Mastery: Crunch Time!

Over the past few weeks, we have begun laying our foundation for understanding the key components of The 7 Steps to Emotion Mastery. We’ve covered Energy Charges, Your Gold and Your Truth, and PETS. In this final installment of our foundations series, we will discuss the point at which all of your work will culminate and you will be put to the ultimate test: Crunch Time!

Put simply, Crunch Time is the point of time at which you will be faced with a life choice. You will either make a decision that is in line with Your Gold and Your Truth or you will make a self-sabotaging choice.

If your goal is to lose weight and make healthy meal choices, then you will be faced with Crunch Time at each meal and snack time throughout the day. If your goal is to never drive while under the influence of alcohol, which puts everyone around you at risk, you will be faced with Crunch Time anytime you are at a social function where alcohol is being served. If you are working toward a financial goal by saving as much of your income as you can, you will be faced with Crunch Time anytime you feel the desire to shop for things that you don’t absolutely need.

If you learn, study, and implement The 7 Steps to Emotion Mastery presented in will confidently access Your Gold and Your Truth and make the best life choices for yourself at Crunch Time.

But even the most seasoned emotion master must remember some guidelines in order to be in the best position to succeed.

Below are some general pitfalls you should avoid when faced with a life choice. These pitfalls will make it more difficult for you to make your best decision at Crunch Time.

  1. DO NOT make life choices when you are enveloped by potentially toxic emotions and urges.
  2. Do not opt for a quick fix or fail to use appropriate discipline and delayed gratification when they are called for.
  3. Do not make important life choices when you are tired or under the influence of intellect-dulling influences such as alcohol, caffeine, or stress.
  4. Always be Consequences Cognizant, by considering your consequences of your acts BEFORE you act.
  5. Do not increase the risk of failing by being in a position that correspondingly increases the energy charges from sabotaging emotions that will potentially overpower your best judgment.

You will be faced with Crunch Time over and over throughout the course of your life. Some decisions will be big and some will be small. If you want to be sure you are ready to face those decisions and not sabotage yourself due to your emotions, pick up a copy of Your Killer Emotions and learn how to master your emotions beginning now.

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)