Aaron Smith believes rugby should have taken a back seat as he attempted to patch things up with his family following his off-field indiscretion last year.
In September, the New Zealand scrum-half was pictured entering a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport with a female who was not his partner.
Smith was subsequently suspended by the All Blacks for "breaching team standards" before making a tearful public apology.
Ahead of his 100th Super Rugby appearance on Friday, the Highlanders number nine concedes it was a difficult period for him and his family.
"It was a huge mistake by me, obviously," he said. "The way it hurt my family and my partner, and then myself obviously, it was just a really tough time.
"I probably should have put rugby on the backburner then and focused on myself and my family.
"But we're past that and I've learnt a lot from it - I think a lot of positives have come from that incident for me personally, on field and off field.
"I fixed a lot of things mentally off the field and that cleared me up to train really hard in the off-season.
"I'm in a really good place right now and I'm just loving how I am on the field and off the field, and how life is."