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Updated: Jul 15, 2022

To Overcorrect is to Still Be Incorrect

A common costly mistake we all make from time to time is that of overcorrecting. We are usually too wrapped up in the moment to recognize that we’ve gone too far, and by the time awareness arrives, the damage is done. Overcorrecting typically happens when we encounter something we were not expecting, and or we were ill prepared to respond properly, sending us into a panic and triggering an instinctive reaction to change directions hard and fast. So, changing directions HARD and FAST is exactly what we do. Often times the overcorrection puts us at greater risk of danger than the initial problem. OUCH!

I will use Parenting as the focus topic to explore this very real problem that impacts our lives more frequently than we know.

The Scenario

Three siblings, parented by two loving first-borns, grew up feeling as if they had little to no control over their own lives, even after they reached adolescent and teenage years. Nearly everything was dictated by their parent’s wishes and preferences. These three children perceived that their parents were so concerned about themselves, their plans and what they wanted, they forgot to consider that their kids were not possessions or things to be owned and controlled. They felt their parents totally overlooked the important fact that they were individuals with their own unique existence, personalities and purpose in life. For whatever reason, they forgot that we would someday grow up and eventually get to choose for ourselves, just as they did.

The Challenge

No one enjoys the feeling of being robbed of choice, not even children. But wait, there is a balance to all this. Sometimes we need the opportunity to choose, and other times its best we don't have a choice in the matter. It's finding balance that can pose a real challenge.

The Overcorrect

Fast forward, now the three children have become parents and have children of their own. For years they vowed to themselves that they would never make the same perceived mistake their parents made. They were committed to a radical shift, allowing their children to make choices and decisions for themselves at a very young age, of course with a few minor exceptions. So they did, they let each child make choices before they could even comprehend the meaning of choice. It was a great feeling initially, but unfortunately, the long term results were chaotic. As their children grew older, they had no regard for the voice of guidance and authority, especially that of their parents. Efforts to adjust to a somewhat stricter approach later in their children's lives backfired and only made things worst.

QUESTION: Where did they go wrong?

Perhaps they overcorrected? There was a necessary adjustment to be made, but not nearly as much as they thought.

Common Causes for Overcorrecting

Pain from Rejection/Betrayal

Repeated Failures/Shortcomings

Overzealous desire to win or succeed

Dissatisfaction with Looks/Personality

Chronic Injustice/Abuse


The Lesson

Responding is better than Reacting

The difference is essentially located between the initial circumstance and your choice.

What’s missing between circumstance and your choice?

What's getting in the way of your ability to respond versus react?

Things are not usually as bad as they appear. This is why reflection is so crucial, and external input is so important for you.

· Practice “Slow Down”

Resist the notion that there is no time to think. Though not much, there is almost always time to think and sometimes rethink. What if you used noncritical moments to practice delaying your reactions, to practice slowing down?

· Practice “Think again”

It helps to get a second opinion, even in your own head, and it can be dangerous to always trust your initial thoughts. This is where it helps to really know yourself, which typically requires some external feedback, someone other than yourself.

· Practice “Choose Wisely”

How well do you assess your choices? Do the wise ones outnumber the unwise?

This process is also better to navigate with external input, someone you know and trust. Somewhere among your thoughts the feedback of others, there is truth.

You can live on the wise side, if you are willing to do the work.


Only the dirty water needs to go, the baby is definitely worth keeping. So yeah, don’t accidentally throw the baby out…

Practice, Practice, Practice until your natural response is a balanced response.

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