Now that I’m retired and don’t have to rush to get to work, I lift my window shade when I wake up to let in the light of the new day and I slip back into bed for approximately 30 minutes. I read my kindle novel, I browse social media, and I know it’s time to get up when my mind begins its daily overthinking pattern. Today’s first overthink (there where will be many more as the day progresses) involved learning from our mistakes and doing things differently in the future, and it got me wondering what I have actually learned that I could change or avoid doing again and I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t really think of anything.

Okay, there are the obvious things such as you go water skiing and get hurt. That’s a mistake I could learn from; no need to do that again. But take a relationship, for instance, and it could be platonic or romantic. You meet someone and pay attention to warning signs which, by the way, are often personal. Such as if I meet someone who has food running down his/her chin during dinner and doesn’t wipe it away, that’s a mistake I won’t be making; we are one and done. But if a person is a narcissist, you can’t know that until you’re well invested in the relationship so how do you ever give anyone a chance again? What exactly did you learn? There are comments we all say that make us appear narcissistic at times, so is that your red flag? One comment and you walk away?

There are mistakes I feel I made at times raising my children. Well, that’s all good and well, but I won’t be given that opportunity again, so the takeaway on that is useless. I can try to pass my wisdom on, but who’s going to want to heed my advice? And what if my advice isn’t any better than the mistakes I made in the first place?

Perhaps a mistake I made was not following my original career choice and becoming a therapist. But I don’t really know if that was a mistake since I don’t know if I would have been successful or if it would have made me more messed up than I already am. It would have made me prouder to say when people asked me what I did for a living, but other than that, I might have hated it.

Even buying a car. You can get a lemon from any make of car, but we never buy that make again because we think we learned something. Take a doctor, for instance. We have a bad experience so we never use that doctor again and advise others not to, but what exactly did we learn? You don’t know what’s a mistake until the mistake happens, so how does that change your ability to ascertain and avoid these problems going forward? I guess in this case, before we use a new doctor we ask around, “Have you ever used, Dr. Nextmistake and what do you think of him/her?” I guess that’s helpful, but even that can be subjective. Not everyone had a negative experience with Dr. Nextmistake or he/she wouldn’t still be in practice.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I simply don’t learn from my mistakes. I just get hurt from them, but still have no clue how to avoid them going forward. I think I’ve always just accepted that as part of living life, though. We’re imperfect people who are going to make mistakes because we don’t have a crystal ball or a personal fortune teller to warn us of impending danger. The best we can do is try not to hurt others along the way and perhaps in time find the humor in some of those mistakes we’ve made.