Michelle: Some people think they know how to love and deal with all aspects of a relationship—only to blow it due to pride or lack of discernment. Many commit the same mistakes when it comes to relationships—like falling for someone who shares the same character flaws as the previous partner. We need to learn from our mistakes so that we do not risk repeating them. Unfortunately, for some of us, it takes a few (or many) repeats of the same mistake to learn the lesson.

DJ: Mistakes are often labeled as such in comparison to what we view as success. Thus, they can also serve as signs to get in touch with ourselves and see what we truly want to be, what we wish to act or accomplish. My nephew is about to enter college and among the lessons I hope he’ll learn more is the importance of clarity. I once chose the wrong course when I was about his age. For five long years, it was a painful exercise of excelling on something I wasn’t really interested in. My heart was clearly not there. But such misstep taught me one lesson I carry with me until this day. I no longer decide on career opportunities without discerning what I truly think and feel about it. I no longer enter into something, relationships included, just because the door is open, out of sheer pressure or just because it appears nice. From such misstep, I figured first-hand that real success or happiness can only be achieved when our mind and heart are aligned to what we think, say or do.

M: You can only learn from the error of your ways if you recognize the fact that you made a mistake and continue to make the same mistakes because of your refusal to let it go, to end a relationship that has no future, or to hang on to the hope that one day all will be well. But no matter what anyone can tell us, ultimately, we are the ones who have to make the hard decisions. We can’t expect others to do it for us. As you said, we all make mistakes. However, we have got to put it behind us or else we will always carry them forward into the future with us.

DJ: Even in relationships, it is often empowering to look for our role in the mistake. It’s not fun but it will also keep us from falling in the same hole again and again. One thing we should watch out for, however, is the self-defeating habit of putting ourselves down. I used to do that when I was younger. While we always strive to become better than we already are, we also have to realize that our not being so perfect is what also makes us unique. Mistakes are part of our being works in progress.

M: Analysis is good. But taking a firm action not to repeat the same mistakes is better. I like your analogy of avoiding the hole. The feelings of guilt, remorse, self-loathing etc. will only disappear if we face the problem head on. Keeping things in the dark will let pain fester. It can be painful but at least the pain will likely heal because we brought it out in the light.

DJ: Don’t blow things away. Learn. Someone once said that anything that hurts can teach us. And if it keeps on hurting, that means we haven’t learned. This is true whether the pain is about our career, our decisions, our relationships or life in general. We all make mistakes, and we’re able to heal and move on faster when we learn.