I believe we all know how horrible the feeling that accompanies “Oh no, what have I done?” really is, as it takes root deep inside ourselves. Just trying to reach the point of mustering enough courage to admit making a mistake of some kind can cause most of us to become physically sick. “How could I have possibly made that mistake?” or “How could I have overlooked something so obvious?” Then we fall head-first into a series of self-defeating thoughts. “I am so stupid! I will never get over this.” The spiral down can be deadly.No matter who you are or where you have been, we all know these feelings. I have been there and I am now here to share with you that it’s not the feelings nor the mistake that should get the forever focus. The most important thing is how we deal with them.
Sadly, every area of our society seems to focus on targeting those who make mistakes, complete with reasons why we should feel guilty for making them. Efforts are even made to try and sell us on the belief that we should avoid making mistakes at any cost lest we suffer humiliation. That pressure, real or perceived, leads us to believe that if we make an error it is the same as admitting failure. Making the mistake gives rise to feelings and beliefs that we are a mistake. It’s a cycle that leads to being mentally and emotionally paralyzed. The stress and fear that we assume would direct us to steering clear of making a mistake again merely pushes us the other way and we make the same mistake over and over again.
That can’t be the way life is supposed to be. If we look at making mistakes differently, we can begin to realize that to be very much alive and part of our world is to make and learn from mistakes. They help us to explore and learn that everything and everyone around us changes, including us. Very few things in life are constant and even fewer are predictable. How can anyone expect to get everything right, each and every time, everywhere…during the “forever” span of time one is here in this life?
No one is denying the reality that some mistakes can have very serious consequences. But my focus here is more on how important it is to recognize that making some mistakes can be a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving ourselves. They can also help us understand the importance of knowing that there are times throughout our lives when trying to do it all alone is that first mistake that leads to others. Mistakes can help us realize the importance of teamwork, listening to other viewpoints, and learning from the experiences of others.
Learning from our mistakes requires that we garner the confidence to admit to ourselves and others (if/when needed) that a mistake has been made. From that point, we must seek the courage to move forward and determine if it is possible to minimize or even change the outcome or impact of the mistake.Realistically, we know that it might not be possible to do that in every situation.However, it is the process and the effort in that process that allows us to move forward.
The opposite would be to avoid taking ownership for your mistakes and that can ruin your personal and professional reputation as well as your credibility among family, friends, and co-workers. Small, simple mistakes—those we all make at some point in our lifetime—can be easily fixed once identified and they are generally accepted by others. However, repeated mistakes can have much weightier consequences. Making the same mistake over and over serves to show that we are not learning sufficiently from the past mistakes in ways that lead us to make needed changes.
Once you make a mistake…what do you do?
- Once you make a mistake, don’t let your first response be the infamous “freaking out.” Instead, stop and remind yourself that you will be okay in and will get through this. Be thankful that you found the error and then take whatever action is needed to alert others who need to be aware of it. I know it is difficult, but there is more respect in owning up to a mistake and taking the lead to correct it than in denying it or hiding it.
- Be positive for positive thinking creates positive results.
- Making a mistake can be painful when it happens. However, you are gaining valuable experience that can lead you to being more cautious in future situations. There is also a greater motivation for creating your own success.
- When facing the reality of a mistake, perhaps it is time to reevaluate what happened more closely so that new opportunities can present themselves and the situation can be resolved more effectively.
- Remember that it takes failure to create success.
- Mistakes can either be stepping stones to growth and progress in your life or stumbling stones that trip you and beat you into feeling like a failure. Even when life takes unexpected turns or you feel like a situation is beyond your control, you have a voice and a choice in your destiny. Accepting mistakes as stepping stones will lead you toward greater success. Remember, though, that failures or successes—never stop believing in yourself.
Changing how you perceive mistakes and what they mean in your life can provide you a totally new outlook. Sometimes making mistakes may humble our ego. However, that allows us to realize that we are not perfect, there is room for growth, and the lessons learned are invaluable.
We are fallible. We need to be forgiven by others and we must be able to forgive others, who are as we are, fallible. Together, we can help each other let go of our fears, reach out to really experience the life journey, and truly live without regrets. History does not have to repeat itself. Mistakes ignored or taken for granted lead down the path of them being made again. Mistakes acknowledged and dealt with constructively can pave the way for a legacy that can help others steer clear of the jagged rocks on the shorelines of life.
You see my friends…mistakes allow us to show our true resiliency as we move through the hard times and experience what it means to be wounded. More importantly, it shows that you care deeply and that you are courageous enough to look beyond where you are to all the possibilities—those that come your way, those that come from others, and those you will create!
When you failed, you were strong enough to remain standing with your dignity intact to show others that even though life is unpredictable and mistakes are inevitable, experiencing a failure does not mean that you are failure. You are my hero and I am so proud to know so many of you who have been and are willing to step out and try something new. I truly commend your desire to have a better life, one that is full of exploration, adventure, and opportunities to think outside the box. Such a life can most certainly motivate others and leave a strong legacy for future generations. I know first-hand the pain and self-imprisonment that has come from not wanting to let go of my own past mistakes.