How To Deal When Your Biggest Mistake Keeps Reappearing In Your Life

Your mistakes reappear in your life for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s your own damn fault—your mistakes come back because you keep making them. At other times, it happens against your will and despite your best efforts. This is certainly the case with my last ex, who was toxic and terrible during our relationship and now keeps popping up in my life despite being unwelcome. Whatever your mistake, be it an ex-partner or a bad habit you just can’t break, here’s how to handle it:

  1. You can put your head in the sand and ignore it. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not saying it’s the greatest strategy, but it’s the only one I can handle right now. Mistakes are paralyzing, particularly if you’re a perfectionist who hates admitting you’re wrong or that you regret anything. I get anxiety every time I think about confronting my big mistake face-to-face. It feels safer to hide, even though it means I have to deal with it again and again.
  2. Block that BS ASAP — just cut it off at the source. No, blocking out your mistakes doesn’t just apply to social media and your phone, but by all means, lock down all of your business if you’re dealing with a past relationship mistake who won’t stop riding your shine. However, if your mistake involves constantly going after the wrong jobs, the wrong partners, or the wrong goals, and if you have the willpower to go cold turkey, then put the block on that BS too. Just stop.
  3. Spend time daydreaming about epic confrontations where you emerge triumphantly. It’s in no way helpful, but it makes me feel better. It might do the same for you. I don’t know; I just feel more confident after winning a confrontation that I staged entirely in my head. Sure, the odds are in my favor the whole time, but I always imagine my opponents to be pretty vicious, so I think my victories still count.
  4. Try to figure out the patterns that lead to this unwanted reappearance. My ex and I used to write together. I’ve noticed that anytime I get a new job, I’ll hear from her within the next few months. Let’s say your biggest mistake is that you don’t follow through with new things. You might notice yourself getting bored before you bail, failing to accomplish tasks, skipping classes or taking sick days, and things like that. There’s always a pattern; you just have to squint your eyes and search for it.
  5. Correct yourself when you recognize you’re taking the wrong turn. Once you recognize the patterns of behavior that follow your most regrettable choices, you can change them. That makes it sound easy. It’s not. You might respond to the toxic ex or friend who reaches out time after time. You might say yes every time someone asks you to do something you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do just because you can’t say no. Teaching yourself to go against your first instinct or the tug of your heartstrings takes perseverance and patience—and, to be honest, you’ll probably slip a time or two. Or ten.
  6. Hold yourself accountable for recognizing the signs of an impending disaster. If you know you’re about to make a big mistake — or that you’re seconds away from inviting a mistake back into your life — then it’s your responsibility to stop the disaster from happening. You’re making a choice every time you ignore them. At that point, it’s your fault that your mistakes keep reappearing.
  7. Find other people to hold you accountable, too. Okay, okay, what I said up there was harsh — true, but harsh. After all, like say, it is hard to break a cycle. So, tell a friend, a confidant, or anyone else who will hold you accountable. Let someone know that there’s a trainwreck on your horizon and you need a little help getting off the tracks.
  8. If your mistake is a person, ask her or him what the eff she or he wants. An upfront approach is often the best approach. I need to do this, I know it, and I just can’t bring myself to do it yet. Be braver than I am. Step up and ask the person who keeps interfering in your life just what the objective is. Hold your mistake accountable, too. You’re not the ghost who won’t go away.
  9. Stage a confrontation and don’t hold back. I need to do the above, but this is what I want to do. At this stage, you can take all the battles you created in your head and put your comebacks to good use. Vent your vitriol and let that put paid to the whole thing.
  10. List out all the ways you’re valuable and worthwhile. Spotting the same mistakes in your life is demotivating. It takes a toll on your confidence. You start to wonder what’s wrong with you and what you’re doing wrong, to the point where it’s hard to remember all the things you’ve done right. You’ve done many things right. Your life is not full of mistakes. You are valuable.
  11. Remember that every mistake is just a lesson. Learn from it. Don’t let it defeat you. You can break the pattern, you can stop making choices that aren’t right for you, and you can keep negative people out of your life. It’s your life. You’re in control of it.
  12. Look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you’re stronger than you once were. I know I’m stronger than the 19-year-old girl my ex took advantage of and manipulated. You’re stronger than you were when you made the mistake you regret the most. You’re learning this lesson, and that’s no small thing.
west virginia native, new hampshire transplant, parisian in the depths of my unimpressed soul. owner of an impressive resting bitch face. writer and reader. fluent in sarcasm and snark. lover of lower case and the oxford comma.