Mistakes. For those of us who fear even making the slightest social faux pas, a major mistake is enough to give you stomach pains. Not only is there the sheer embarrassment of the moment, but you have the illogical notion of never leaving the house again. Never. But then after some time passes, you get over it.
By now, you have probably realized that mistakes are a part of everyday life. Mistakes are natural occurrences, and running away from them means turning a blind eye to their intrinsic value. Rather than seeing mistakes as failures, start seeing them as lessons.
Good, bad, and ugly
Why does even the slightest blip make us go crazy with confusion, regret, and fear? For me, personally, even if I do something silly unthinkingly, I dive right into the abyss of worst case scenarios and drown in doubt.
Mistakes are terrifying for a number of reasons. Humans are psychologically wired to perceive them this way, especially after watching how others around us deal with mistakes. The main reason we fear failure is because of the very primitive instincts still dwelling inside modern man.
If our ancestors made a mistake, it was often a life or death situation. Unfortunately for us, mistaking the salt shaker for pepper can evoke the dismal sensation of “I-am-going-to-get-eaten-by-coyotes.”
Mistakes also go against order. Social norms often form when things go smoothly for a large population of people. Conform to order, and no mistakes will be made. This is why some people get nervous when invited to formal parties. What if you pick up the wrong fork? What if you laugh too loudly? These mistakes should not be grave faults, but to those in the room, it is.
Your past history does not matter
Because mistakes often follow us around like black clouds for years after we committed them, many people form the habit of dwelling on them. Dwelling is as dangerous as mistakes feel. Brooding over what should have been correct in a situation causes depression, anger, perfectionism, and procrastination. Worse, when you dwell, you are not seeing the most obvious positive outcome. You did not die from that mistake, did you?
There is a lesson in everything
Like you, I too have failed horrendously at some things. I am not going to deny it. I have long given up on being perfect, because when I strived for that, I was unhappy. When I made mistakes in the past, I had an unhealthy plan to hide those mistakes.
I denied doing them or lied to myself about it not being my fault. Anything to mitigate the pain of failure. But what pained me more was the guilt. So, what did I do? I used the same advice I am going to tell you right now:
1. Accept what happened
You are conscious still, which means you have a chance to right the wrong. You have a chance to rethink the situation and try again. When you accept that things did not turn out as planned, you are ready to obtain the value lesson attached to it.
One more thing about accepting what happened is taking responsibility for it. Responsibility, even in the face of failure, is empowering. Others see your resolve, and you, in turn, receive a breath of determination to save face.
2. Search for reason
Search for the motives or sources of the problem in your thinking, your actions, and your emotions before, during, and after the mistake took place. Understand yourself. If you were at fault, you need to realize that some fine-tuning might be in order.
Mistakes happen most of the time because we were ignorant about something. Once you faulted, there is a huge neon glow pointing to the issue, saying, “Hey, check this out before you wreck yourself. Again.”
3. Face your fear
Fear of failure. Fear of complete defeat and annihilation. These are very human and very understandable. Despite this, you need to face your fears if you plan on rising to great heights. Achieving your goals often means failing repeatedly.
But you cannot let that fear consume you. Learn from it. Train yourself to use it to your advantage. You will realize that when you accept your mistake and cope with fear, resources and solutions seem to materialize immediately.
4. Love yourself
Perfection is boring. People who never do anything wrong are fake. Or androids. Our failures create us, reshape us, and turn us into the people we are meant to be. Mistakes not only teach us how to proceed in life, they show us our strengths and weaknesses. Mistakes open up the doorways to self-awareness, growth, and truth.
Mistakes are burdensome when you do not know how to handle them the correct way. Instead of turning your back on the pain and fear, welcome it into your life. Mistakes do not have to be terrifying.
Think of them as the most honest teachers you will ever meet, because they are produced by your own actions. Take responsibility and grow into the person you were meant to be.