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How to Let Go of Mistakes

mistakeI’ve lived with schizophrenia for almost nine years now and if one thing is for certain when it comes to schizophrenia, it’s that worries seem to get lodged in the folds of your brain. You can have a worm in there that will eat into to your mind and it can be incredibly hard to let it go. Some of these idea worms are temporary and some of them are extremely long lasting and can affect you subtly over the long haul and spring at a moment of insecurity.

My recovery has been one long course of coming to terms with these kinds of ideas and learning to let them go, I’ve had to work my butt off to not only find some semblance of normalcy for myself but also to project an ideal version of myself onto society.

One major vein of ideas that seem to continually haunt me is what people think about me. I’m worried they’re being malicious against me but even if I let that paranoia go, there’s still a good deal of social anxiety and the idea that I have to perform correctly in order to stave off any teasing or malicious intent. What I mean by performing is that I’ve had to calculate every little interaction to get it right or else I worry that they think bad things about me. Over time I’ve gotten really good at social stuff but I still make a mistake or a faux-pas every once in a while and when I do it eats at me. That’s where letting these mistakes and ideas go comes in. What kind of person would I be if I couldn’t let go of every tiny awkward thing? I’d probably be a hermit afraid to even leave my house and I have been in the past but thankfully I’ve learned to be comfortable with my mistakes.

The truth is that it’s hard to even go a day in our society without making some kind of social mistake either big or small. Letting them go takes self-awareness and strength and I’ve learned a few tricks to do it well, or at least well enough that I don’t lose sleep over things I could’ve done.

The first and most important thing to remember is that no matter how big the mistake seems in the moment, with a little time it will be a tiny blip. If you think you’ve embarrassed yourself give it a couple days before you go to the place where the mistake happened that will give you time to process it and see it for how insignificant it is. It will also give the recipient of the awkwardness time to come to terms with it and they will probably be over it as soon if not sooner than you are. It’s true that time heals all wounds.

Another method of learning to be comfortable and let go of mistakes is to diffuse the situation by apologizing. If you’ve done something you regret a sincere apology can mean the world and can lessen the shrill chafing of a mistake. Chances are it’s not a huge deal anyway but if it is, an actual sincere apology will mean a lot.

Lastly, you have to learn to be comfortable with the mistake yourself. The best way to do this is to accept and let yourself know that it’s still ok. You’re still the same person, you’re still awesome even if you did something you regret. Life will go on and time will pass and letting something like that eat at you will only make you miserable.

Just know that it’s ok that you made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes and they do it frequently.

Like I said, give it enough time and it won’t even matter.

Mistakes happen whether you like it or not, living a good life means not letting things like this get to you.

How to Let Go of Mistakes

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). How to Let Go of Mistakes. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jan 2015
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