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Let’s Talk - Is There A Difference Between Making A Mistake and A Poor Choice?

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Discussing whether there is a difference between a mistake and a poor choice.

Mistake and Poor Choice.

Two terminologies that can be interchangeable depending on who you ask. You may get different answers depending on who is more forthcoming about the decisions they made in their lives or excuses they are trying to make for themselves. I think we all know at this point that a “mistake” is done unintentionally with no malice behind said action. You may accidentally bump into someone as you are walking, you may forget a very important date thinking it was supposed to be on another day, or you may even accidentally spill something onto someone, or on yourself. Mistakes are not pre-calculated actions. Now making a “poor choice” on another hand is why I wanted to make this article.

A "poor choice" is usually done with the knowledge of what you are doing but didn’t think it would go a certain way and now is ashamed of the consequence of said choice you made and is trying to ease yourself out of the guilt of making the said choice. Let me explain. Your parent(s) tell you that you can go and play video games or hang out with friends once you finish your homework. Your parent(s) then have to do something that requires them to leave the house and hope that they trust you enough to do as you were told and don’t do any extracurriculars until said homework assignment is completed. You then go against their orders and decide to do the opposite of what you were told to do and you do whatever you want either playing video games or hanging out with friends. Hours later while indulging in your rebellion and disobedience, you then end up losing track of time and having to rush home if you are the “hang out with the crew” scenario or you are trying to clean up your area, put up the video game and run upstairs before your parent(s) walk through the door scenario. In both scenarios, you are caught and now have to take accountability for your actions. What you did was something blatantly intentional. You chose to go against your parent's orders, disobeyed them, and were caught in the act of invading punishment. Was that a mistake?

In both scenarios, if the person that committed the act would have gotten away with it, it wouldn’t be a poor choice because your actions worked toward your benefit. That wasn't the case in the example. Here’s another example. You as a guy or girl go to a party dressed a particular way to attract the opposite sex (or same-sex) to you and you two may get to talking. You both decide to go upstairs or somewhere quiet so you both can get to know each other “alone”. One thing leads to another; talking becomes kissing, kissing becomes cresting, and 5 minutes later you both are naked in a warm embrace of passion and lust.

Mind you, you don’t know the person you just met. You only know their first name (if it is their real name that they gave you), and you don’t know if they have some sort of transmittable sexual disease or if they are even the right person to be with. Two things can happen at this point: 1. You catch something from a moment of passion or 2. You get someone impregnated, or you become impregnated (remember condoms and other contraceptives can prevent some things, not all). Now after that little rendezvous, regret what happened and when facing the consequence of said action you say to yourself “It…. Just…. Happened”.

How did it just happen when everything led to that moment of “passion”? You go to a party where you know there may be alcohol or drugs and strange people there, you dress attractively for attention to attract someone to you, you then talk for a minute and both decide to go to a place to be alone and the signs are not there!? REALLY?!!! In the secluded place, one thing leads to another, and then there is a sound of euphoria after a few moments of pleasure with the possible two outcomes transpiring. Was that a mistake? In both examples I stated, that you know what you are doing when committing the action, they want to backtrack, and willfully blind you from any wrongdoing when the purposeful action doesn’t get you the results you want or don’t want to face what you have done.

I recently revised the premise of this article from my many attempts at launching CBT (I will tell you all my life story eventually) and remembered what made me want to write this post, to begin with. Besides being tired of hearing people doing whatever they want to do, it affects other people around them and they don’t want to take accountability for their actions that have "possibly" affected the lives of others (I will go more in-depth about “accountability” in a couple of articles in the future), I got this idea from watching the Netflix docu-series “I Am A Killer”; especially the second episode of season 1 entitled “Killer in the Eyes of the Law” which is about the former death row inmate “Kenneth Foster”.

The Netflix true-crime docu-series is about death row inmates, their crimes that sentenced them to death, along with an interview with the death row inmate, commentary from people who have worked on or had some sort of connection with their case, and the people that were affected as the result of their “choices” either love ones of the victim(s) or the inmate’s love one. In the episode featuring Kenneth Foster, Foster was imprisoned and was charged with capital murder after driving with 3 assailants to a failed robbery that killed a man named "Michael Lahood" in his parent's driveway in 1997. His brother Nico Lahood ended up becoming the Criminal District Attorney of Bexar County, Texas but has since retired.

Here is where I got the idea for the article. In the series, between the 33:00 and 33:45 mark of the video is when the former Criminal District Attorney of Bexar County Nico Lahood talks about his experience as a young adult who made a "poor choice" that almost cost him his life and wanted to tell his story as a "born again Christian". Lahood was arrested in 1994 for trying to sell $3,600 worth of ecstasy pills to an undercover police officer:

He said,

"I didn't make a mistake. People like to talk about poor choices as a mistake. A mistake is an accident. I didn't make a mistake, I made a poor choice. I sold drugs. I sold drugs when I was young and foolish, and I was arrested for selling drugs. I was pissed off at myself. I was labeled a drug dealer, a criminal because I made poor choices in my life. I was stupid. So, I was mad at myself because I was dealing with these labels that I helped put on myself. I mean -- So, I've lived it."

Foster in the episode also acknowledges what happens when you hang around a bad crowd, which ultimately almost got him a death sentence if he didn’t push back from being executed. I also forgot to mention that he “was just the driver” and still was hit with a hard charge because of “association” which many people are imprisoned every day for. I recommend this series because it makes you look at these individuals and sometimes see yourself in them in a way that makes you appreciate life more and that you could easily be one of those inmates awaiting their last meal or giving their final life’s testimony before death. After all, “one wrong decision or choice could easily put you in their position” not to mention that environmental background, socioeconomic, and the social construct of the race could all play a part in being in the positions these men and women have been in.

I want to wrap this article up before it gets any longer, but I think that most if not all of you have gotten the point that I was making in this article. Mistakes are unintentionally made while poor choices aren't and depending on how much consequence one receives from one said action they try to diminish a premeditated action that if successful and could get away with it, would continue doing it. We all make mistakes and that makes us humans and we have all made pretty poor choices that affected either ourselves or others. Sometimes in life, mistakes can create the most unexpected things that exist today. Inventions that have made our lives more convenient, our favorite foods or our favorite form of recreation, our favorite film/television franchises, and even our favorite color or fragrance for a night out. Mistakes created plenty of things but it has also affected the world in worse ways. But those are more like "poor choices" and to be frank with all of you, "most of us" are the result of other people's poor choices.

Either you were an unplanned child, someone purposely harmed you leaving visible and invisible wounds, the environment you grew up in, or even your economical state right now. But we don't have to stay a victim because of someone else's self-centered actions. What they did to us or others are examples of what not to do or how to be better than them no matter who it is that did whatever to us. Just know that you are not a mistake and you were a victim of someone's poor choices and that there is a clear distinction between "making a mistake" and "making a poor choice".

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