Adapted rom Chapter 9, The Blame Bitch: Mistakes, Failure and Inequity, from The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Humans are imperfect and make mistakes.

The world is not fair, so bad things happen to good people. Those are not just clichés; they are absolute truths. The question is not whether you are going to make a mistake or experience a tragedy; it’s whether The Bitch will let you handle it in a way that facilitates recovery.

Here are three ways to overcome a problem or mistake:

You did something bad. Okay, you were wrong. Now the question is: What are you going to do about it? The Bitch in your head will try to make you wallow in self-blame, or maybe even self-hatred. But self-blame doesn’t help anyone. The best thing is usually to apologize and try to make amends.

You got a raw deal. People will tell you, “Get over it.” But that’s easier said than done. You may never get over it, but if you become mired in bitterness and anger, you will drive everyone away. Focus on what you have left, not what you lost. Focus on building a future, rather than getting stuck in the past.

You made a big mistake. It wasn’t deliberate and it wasn’t your fault, but The Bitch says that people will blame you and say you were “stupid.” “She” says to cover it up or just don’t admit to doing it – but The Bitch always gives bad advice. In almost all cases, it’s best to admit the mistake and offer to do what’s necessary to rectify the problem. If that is not possible, just apologize and say that you have learned from your mistake.

What to do

Address the problem rather than ignore or wallow in it. How? By understanding the difference between a conscience and The Bitch — and between constructive and destructive criticism: One helps you identify a problem in a way that allows you correct it. The other keeps you stuck in self-criticism and useless guilt.