why do i keep messing up

5 Reasons We Keep Messing Up

If there’s one place I hate going, it’s the grocery store. Every time I’m there, I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible. It’s crowded and I never know where anything is. Early in my marriage, I ran into a lot of problems at the grocery store. My wife would tell me to get four or five items. I’d commit them to memory and be on my way. Inevitably, I always forgot something or came back with the wrong brand or non-organic products. It was a disaster. Eventually, I asked myself, “Why do I keep messing up?”

There were years of it, over and over again. But messing up a grocery list is small. Sometimes we can mess up bigger things, like important moments, career choices, and relationships. Sadly, we end up hurting people over and over, especially the ones closest to us. It can be frustrating when we want to do better but just can’t seem to get it right. So again, we think, “Why do I keep messing up?” Here are 5 reasons.

1. We lack focus.

I took an aptitude test once. One of the exercises had a bunch of small circles, like answer bubbles on a multiple choice exam, but the circles had no letters in them. The goal was to put a dot in the center of as many circles as possible in one minute. I went fast, but made a ton of mistakes and got worse over time as my focus wavered. Cleaning up our mistakes takes intentional care. We need to slow down, process what we’re doing, and make sure we’re doing the right thing.

2. We minimize the gravity of our mistakes.

One of the most damaging ways to respond when we have done something wrong is to justify our actions or minimize the pain we’ve caused. If you find yourself getting defensive when someone points out a mistake you’ve made or something you’ve done that caused hurt, you may be minimizing it. When we fail to understand the consequences of our actions or the pain we’ve caused, it reduces our ability to change.

3. We don’t make changes.

I told three different sets of people a joke I thought was funny. Not a single laugh in all three groups—just blank stares. My wife couldn’t believe I told it the first time. Why did it take me three awkward experiences to finally abandon the joke? If we want to stop messing up, we have to change the way we do things. We can’t expect a different result if we keep executing the same strategies, taking the same approaches, saying similar things, or speaking in our usual tones.

Taking a risk on something new is better than failing over and over the old way.

4. We really don’t want to change.

Maybe the reason we don’t make any changes is because deep down, we don’t want to change. We are either filled with too much pride, thinking others should be different, or we’re fearful of moving forward in new ways. You are the constant in your recurring problems. If it’s not working, do something different. Taking a risk on something new is better than failing over and over the old way.

5. We need transformation, not behavior modification.

In Matthew 12:35, Jesus says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” If we want to mess up less, we need to be transformed at the heart level. That means we need to think and feel differently. Our motivations need to change. Instead, we try to change our behavior or make New Year’s resolutions that don’t last. It’s working on the outside instead of the inside. We have to go below the surface and fill our souls with what’s good. For me, God is the One who’s good. When my heart and soul are filled with God, I become good. My motivations become pure, I make better decision, and I mess up less.

Sound off: Have you ever asked yourself the question “Why do I keep messing up?” What was your answer?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What goes through your mind when you make a mistake?”