How To Get Stronger From Screwing Up

Note: This is a guest post from Max of Inner Gladiator. It’s a great post of taking responsibility. In life, you’re bound to mess up and make mistakes. Then you can either start blaming others or man up to it. I’ve personally fallen out with a bunch of friends who were too pussy to admit their flaws, something I’ll never respect. 

That being said, you wanna achieve your dreams? You want to start living the life you want? Take responsibility for everything around you first. No excuses. 

A couple of years ago, I went through a dark period in my life. My typical day looked like this: hit snooze on the alarm 5 times, wake up, smoke a cigarette while dragging myself to class, devour a bacon egg & cheese sandwich, take a 2 hour nap, wake up, watch TV, eat another hoagie with salt-and-vinegar chips, drink with some friends, and then to top it off, I’d take a shot of Nyquil so I could fall asleep to do it again the next day.

So I moved abroad for the summer to get my stuff together, and I started to think about why things had gotten so bad. I thought I figured it out and initially blamed all of my unhappiness on my friends, which of course, isn’t the real reason.

The real reason is that I had failed to take responsibility for the direction of my own life.

Little did I know that this mini-revelation of mine would deeply offend some of my friends…

So to share my newfound knowledge with my readers, I wrote an article entitled “Why People Are Mirrors And How To Learn More About Yourself.”

In the introduction, the article described how my friends weren’t “all bad” but that I saw a lot of negativity in them. I came out and said that they were bad influences on me and that they were the reason for my demise.

And when my friends read this part…they got PISSED.

Of course it isn’t true – in fact, later on in the article I emphasize that what I thought about other people was just a reflection of myself.

But it didn’t come across that way to my friends.

How did I find out that it was offensive? I got a message from an ex-girlfriend who was pissed that I wrote it, and another message from another person who told me to go kill myself.

When that happened, it really hit me.

It was the first time in a while that I realized the gravity my actions had a substantial impact on the people in my life and the people I write to.

The Regret Phase

After getting this “hate mail”, I felt like a complete shit.

If only I knew I had to take responsibility for my actions instead of just brushing it off…

But I was pissed at myself. How could my writing upset so many people?

I went through a huge self-doubt marathon where I felt terrible for putting people down, and I felt that I was turning into the person that I never wanted to turn into.

I couldn’t even get my work done without thinking about it. Although I knew that shit happens, it was still causing me a lot of emotional pain.

I tried to get rid of the feeling. I tried to reframe the situation and say that it didn’t matter because what’s done is done. But that didn’t do anything.

Then a simple act of a little puppy changed the way I looked at taking responsibility…

A couple of days ago, while I walking back to my apartment from class, I ran into a friend who was walking her little puppy dog. Puppies are cute as hell, so I went to pet it. It got really excited and jumped all over me…and who doesn’t love that?

Then my friend said “oh my gosh…I’m soooo sorry”.


“She got mud all over your pants.”

I looked down to see a bunch of dirt all over my jeans.

“Oh…whatever she’s just a puppy”

Then I had one of those aha moments:


Sometimes a puppy shits all over the carpet. But that doesn’t stop it from being a cute little puppy for the rest of its life. It might get scolded at for droppin’ a deuce on the top of your Comcast remote, but the puppy doesn’t get depressed for the rest of her life. She just learns her lesson to not do it again, and moves on. And at the end of the day…she’s still a cute little puppy dog.

Okay, so I don’t consider myself a little cute female puppy. But this reminded me that it’s okay to screw up as long as I learn from the experience and don’t continue to shit all over the place.

“Regret only belongs to experiences that don’t facilitate growth.”

How To Take Responsibility From Screwing Up 

I met up with one of the pissed off friends to have a talk. By talking through it we were able to get on the same page, and instead of blowing off the situation as a loss, I’m able to grow from the situation instead of getting depressed about it.

So here’s what I learned about the entire situation…

If you screw up, it’s okay. Don’t use this as an excuse to do whatever you want without any regard to other people’s feelings, but as long as you take responsibility and own up for what you’ve actually done, it’s a great learning experience and will prevent you from screwing up in that area later down the line.

It’s not easy to take responsibility, I know. It takes a lot of energy to admit that you messed up even if you did it unintentionally, but when you do, you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes instead of brushing them off. It took me a while to own up to my actions regarding the article, but now I know to be more careful with how I say things. It’s less likely to happen again in the future.

You just have to own up and be honest with what you’ve done and how you want to move forward. People will understand, and everyone will feel better as a result.

You don’t have to dwell on it, but you do have to act on it. Stay strong, make mistakes, take responsibility, learn, and move on.

Max Nachamkin is his own Inner Gladiator, a man dedicated to mastering his career, his health, and his relationships. He’s a writer, a world traveler, a paleo advocate, and a nationally ranked Rubik’s Cube solver.

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  1. deb - February 14, 2013 12:47 pm

    Thank you for the article. It is interesting how we can forgive a puppy, an animal and not ourselves. It is because it is an animal and a “lesser” intelligent animal or what? I am struggling with the idea that I did the best I knew how and got fired. I am trying to see what happened and move on, it isn’t easy, but that is what I am trying to do in that situation.

    • Max Nachamkin - February 14, 2013 4:52 pm

      I think that’s partly it. We connect with humans on a higher level, so when someone screws up, it seems more important than if a puppy screws up.

      And sorry about getting fired..but keep in mind that ALL the “greats” have been fired at some point! Treat it as a learning experience and keep on rockin’ on.

  2. Daniel DiPiazza - February 14, 2013 1:29 pm

    Not sure that I always forgive the puppy for crapping on the carpet, but I understand the sentiment. We have to find the fine line between blaming ourselves for EVERYTHING and not taking responsibility for ANYTHING.

  3. Anthony Lee - February 15, 2013 3:02 am

    I agree with you mostly. Yes….take total responsibility…..absolutely. But I’m not so sure I’m that concerned about pissing people off. The truth can hurt sometimes. However if you’re saying the mistake was in your falsely blaming your friends for your poor decision making……well, I get that. However, you said one of your friends responded by telling you to kill yourself? If your piece painted a picture of your friends as a source of negativity in your life, it doesn’t sound like you were far off the mark.

    • alden - February 15, 2013 5:40 am

      Haha for real man. Super extreme to have a friend to tell you to kill yourself. It’s super childish plus a major reflection of his own insecurities.

      AFter all, every attack is a cry for help.

    • Max Nachamkin - February 15, 2013 3:43 pm

      Totally, man. And yeah, it’s important that I’m not apologizing to say that they’re right and I’m wrong. It’s my viewpoint and I’m entitled to it –they can hate on it if they want.

      But what I’m saying is that even though they misinterpreted the article, I still don’t want them to feel like pieces of shit. We aren’t close anymore for many reasons, but I still don’t want to put someone down intentionally.

      Apologizing doesn’t mean that they’re right…so I did it and moved on. Call me sensitive, but I feel a lot better that I did it.

  4. sakiru - February 15, 2013 3:35 am

    I agree with Dan. My view is that the attitude will not solve the problem. We ought to be responsible.

  5. alden - February 15, 2013 5:46 am

    The hidden message in this article is about surrounding yourself with positive people.

    Max, you were brave in writing that article which pissed your friends off. Although that wasn’t your intention, you must have felt something to churn out such an article.

    I personally wouldn’t have written something like that, cause I tend to be more extreme. If I feel negativity in a group, bam, I’m gone. I just leave. No point dealing with people who don’t serve me positively. Or if anything, keep a healthy distance.

  6. Chuck - February 15, 2013 2:36 pm

    For the past 2 months or so i have been reading your articles, and out of all of them this one hit the hardest. People make mistakes all the time, ranging from spilling some milk on the floor to accidentally deleting their friends bank account numbers(I dont know how thats possible but you get my point). The matter of fact is, action will bring you to a peaceful state of mind of the situation. Dwelling on it for eons doesnt help, believe me i know, but talking through it in an honest manner will help relieve yourself of the stress that is plaguing your life. Thanks man i really enjoy reading the articles you post.

  7. Max Nachamkin - February 15, 2013 3:50 pm

    Thanks, Chuck — I really appreciate that.

    But Alden and Anthony said, hopefully you’d have friends that would understand that you just made a mistake and it’s all good. You shouldn’t have to apologize a million times, but if it’s something drastic, taking responsibility for your mistake will make everything better. For example, if you deleted your friends bank account numbers (lol) you’d maybe go to the bank with him to get it resolved or buy him lunch or something.

    It’s simple, but I’ve seen myself skimp on things like this from time to time and it kills me. Own up and get stronger 😀


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