“What could I have done differently?” is different from “I’m an idiot for not handling the situation differently.”
The first sentence is a question. It contains no negative judgments or assumptions. It’s simply an attempt to explore options beyond what’s immediately obvious.
The second sentence is an assertion. It’s loaded with negative judgments and disempowering assumptions, and it’s a sure segue into self-loathing.
Here’s today’s two cents:
Harsh judgments about your current state of intelligence is never a prerequisite for learning. You don’t have to believe that you’re a complete screw-up in order to take steps towards becoming a better person. You don’t need to be positive either. Just stop analyzing yourself altogether and get on with what you need to do.
Don’t spend your energy trying to figure out if you deserve to be grounded, sent to detention, or slapped on the wrist.
It’s a time-consuming distraction and it really doesn’t help you or anyone else.
Either you know what you need to know or you don’t. Either you’re interested in finding the answers that will help you or you’re not. Either you’re going to research, practice, and do your work or you’re not.
Reexamine the situation. Brainstorm. Play around with different results. Try something new and keep trying something new until you find what works.
Whatever you do, leave the guilt for the birds.