“I did terrible on the last exam, but it was only because it’s an 8 a.m. I mean, does the professor honestly expect us to show up to class? It’s really not even my fault.”
Chances are, you’ve probably heard someone say something along these lines before–maybe it was even you. The truth is, we’ve all done it. We’ve all deflected our wrongdoings onto other people or circumstances.
While it’s not very productive, it makes us feel better about the situation, at least in the short-term. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help us learn from our own mistakes. Blaming outside factors only leads to frustration, disappointment and disengagement.
Believing that one’s successes or failures are a result of factors outside of their control is called an external locus of control. People chalk their failures up to luck, circumstance or bias, among other things. Admitting you’ve messed up is a tough pill to swallow. No one enjoys vocalizing their mistakes. Often times, it’s easier to blame a misstep on someone or something else.
Although more difficult, admitting when you’ve made a mistake is surprisingly refreshing and it is a way to learn more about yourself. You realize that although you cannot control every minor detail of your life, there are certain aspects that are in your control.
For example, maybe you didn’t study enough, or maybe you didn’t bother to pay attention in lecture. Admitting you messed up signals strong character and allows you to stand back up, brush yourself off and move on. You can acknowledge your mistake, think about what you could have done differently and then continue on with your day.
Cheyenne Hansen, a freshman business major, explains her thought process behind admitting mistakes. “When you finally admit to your mistakes, it sets you free. You no longer have the shame and the guilt of carrying the mistake on your shoulders,” says Hansen. “Instead, you have the freedom to restart, to correct yourself and to build yourself up again in a new manner. Admitting your mistakes is not easy, but it is a refresher that I think we all need once in a while.”
Perhaps you said something to a friend, or anyone really, that you wish you could take back. Whether it was something that was factually incorrect or just plain offensive, many people will often opt to either pretend they didn’t do or say anything wrong, or, even worse, try to justify why they said it. In this instance, it would be best if you just swallow your pride, admit you were wrong and apologize. Your peers will respect you much more if you are able to admit you made a mistake.
The next time something goes wrong, challenge yourself to dissect the problem at hand. Was there anything you could have done differently? Was this really the wrongdoing of someone or something else or was it you? It’s okay to admit that you’ve made a mistake because that means you can reflect. The people who are able to admit they’ve made a mistake are the people who can fix them, learn from them and do better in the future.
It’s important to remember … we all make mistakes. After all, we’re only human.