I recently tried something new. As you may know from previous videos and posts, I opened an office space downtown. It was exciting. And then it was not quite what I was expecting
When things don’t go the way I expect them to, it’s easy for me to start making up stories that sound like, "I did it wrong," "I should have thought of x, y, or z," or worst of all, I should have known better."
In other words, when my expectations don't come to fruition, I can feel like I made a mistake. Have you ever felt that way?
In reality, experiencing mistakes is inevitable. We are human, after all. Our expectations, especially if they are super specific, will go unmet. And then comes the magic. We get to choose how we want to RESPOND.
However, that choice is ours only if we use our skills of awareness. Otherwise, we could miss some amazing opportunities to learn and grow. Not only did our expectation go unmet, we also don't get the true benefit that comes with this experience! We prevent ourselves from developing into who we're meant to become!
I would like to propose that it's the mistakes that make us who we are. When we work consciously with our perceived mistakes (because if there's a bigger purpose to mistakes, how can it really be a mistake, right?), we can grow by leaps and bounds.
It is in how we choose to respond to how our life unfolds that really determines the scope of what we learn. But how does one "choose" a response to mistakes in life?
When you feel as if you've made a mistake, the first thing to do is acknowledge and validate your feelings. Name whatever emotions come up for you. Is there shame? Frustration? Disappointment? Maybe some grief that what you wanted to happen just isn't going to happen. All of those feelings are understandable!
The next thing is to forgive yourself for what you didn't know prior to feeling like you made a mistake. We are not born knowing everything, although, that would be nice. Even when we are given information by others, we don't always use that information (which is why you can never really learn from someone else's mistakes!). That's what we call "learning the hard way." But it's still learning, never-the-less. Punishing yourself indefinitely for the things you didn't know is like biting your own fingernails. It causes pain, which prevents you from being able to do the things you need to do to move forward. Weird analogy? Maybe.
Once you've forgiven yourself, it's time to sift through your history. But what you're looking for is the patterns that have repeated themselves related to how you feel about making mistakes. For instance, did you feel ashamed whenever you made mistakes? If so, what were the circumstances around that feeling? Was there an older sibling you wanted to impress but no matter how hard you tried, you could never get them to notice you? Or, did you always brush mistakes off as a kid only to discover as an adult that you really couldn't handle the times that you didn't perform perfectly on the job? If that's the case, what happened to cause this shift in your perspective on making mistakes?
There are so many ways that mistake making can be perceived. It can be helpful to write in a journal about your experiences with mistakes. You'll have clarity around how you typically handle mistakes and why you react that way. When you know WHY you can start to see HOW you can make some changes.
Once your historical handlings of mistakes is known, it's time to figure out WHAT you want to do. In other words, it's time to take ACTION. If the perceived mistake involved someone else, do you want to make an apology? If you gave a presentation and there's wrong information, how about correcting it- If your mistake is something that can be amended for the future, why not help future you out? Sometimes, the only action needed, however, is sitting with whatever is coming up for you emotionally and being with it. The action doesn't have to be big. It just needs to be right for you.
In the video below, I go into more detail about my personal "mistake" and how I'm currently working with it to learn, grow, and develop on my own path. May these insights help you on your journey!