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Dynamic Lynks Blog

Learning From Mistakes

In our #30DaysofGratitude series, we are using acts of gratitude and self-care to practice application for our mistakes and past experiences. It is true that everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes it can be challenging to come to terms with the aftermath of these mistakes. Today we are sharing this intervention to help process the experience of learning from our mistakes!

Step 1: Mistakes Poem- "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters"

A way that I like to first introduce this topic to a group or client is with the poem "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters" by Portia Nelson. I like to pass out the poem with no prior introduction to the topic, then read the poem together. Afterwards we discuss the meaning of the poem and introduce the topic of learning from mistakes. You can download the poem here. I then like to introduce steps on how to learn from your mistakes with the group:

  1. A mistake is made

  2. Recognition and taking responsibility for the mistake

  3. Self-forgiveness and compassion

  4. Learning something new from the mistake

  5. Implementing the new knowledge to not make the mistake again


Steps 2 and 3: "Sorry" by Justin Bieber - Song Analysis

  • Pass out the lyric sheet to "Sorry" and introduce the concept of "sorry" to your group (or client).

  • Listen to or play the song live and discuss what "sorry" means to each group member, or the individual client.

  • You could ask: "How does this song relate to the idea of learning from mistakes?" "Have you ever had to forgive yourself before?" "Is self-forgiveness an easy or difficult thing to do?"

*It is the job of the therapist to help clients process through their emotions. Some clients may demonstrate strong understanding and interpretation of their emotions and feelings when analyzing this song. Others may need more support. Use your discretion and knowledge base when leading this intervention.


Step 4: "Blackbird" by The Beatles - Song Analysis

Listen to or play the song "Blackbird." Afterwards, use the lyrics as a prompt to discuss how good things can come out of something that may not have felt good.

Step 5: New Songwriting

After engaging in group discussion, it is the perfect time to help your clients write their own song! To do this in one session, I usually help them make a "mini song" of about 4 or 5 lines, or re-write one of the songs discussed above.

  • The new song should be on the topic of trying something again with the lesson that the person has learned.

  • You can help prompt ideas by having people share an experience of when they have done this in the past, or the lyrics could be prompted by asking "How will you stay motivated to keep what you learned in mind during your future actions?"

  • Sing, play, and share your new version of the song!

  • Take time to discuss and reflect on how you/your client feels after expressing these emotions.

*Again, use your discretion on how deep to dive into this emotional expression and processing experience.

This is an activity that can be used for adolescents or adults, across a variety of settings. We can't wait to see how you use this analysis and songwriting intervention!

If you're not already, join us in our 30 Days of Gratitude by following along

on Instagram and Facebook!

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