Your Life: What can we learn from mistakes we've made

Charlotte Lankard: Who among us has not at some time said or done something we regret and would give anything if we could take it back? The only way to move past that kind of regret is to learn from it.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD, For The Oklahoman Published: May 27, 2014
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Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, made negative headlines and now says he made a terrible mistake. I agree. Does that excuse him? No. Does that mean there should be no consequences? No. Can his experience be useful for those of us watching? Yes.

Who among us has not at some time said or done something we regret and would give anything if we could take it back? I believe the only way to move past that kind of regret is to learn from it.

Here are some questions to ponder when you’ve made that kind of mistake:

What did you discover about yourself as you went through the experience? Did it help you know what’s important in life and what is not?

What did you learn about relationships — yours with others and theirs with you? Did it teach you how love works?

What perspective do you have about the way your life used to be compared to the way it is today? Do you see the world around you any differently as a result of what you’ve been through?

What do you now believe more deeply than ever? What do you believe about your place in the world? About what your future holds for you? About what you now have to offer?

Some common things often happen to people who have made mistakes they deeply regret. They are no longer quick to judge others. They remember the second chances they got. They remember the friends who, without excusing what was wrong, walked beside them as they cleaned up their mess. They are willing to make that journey with another.

Sterling is in a mess. I hope he has those kinds of friends.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at clankard@opubco.com.