Mistakes. We all make them, but frequently we hold back for fear of screwing up, putting the wrong foot forward, saying the wrong thing, hesitating before taking an action. All of this is ‘normal’ human behavior. But when we use our fear of mistakes as excuses for not moving our lives in the direction we want, then we’re in trouble.
You’ve heard the expression – make a mistake the first time and it’s move on. Make it a second time, and you weren’t paying attention, but the third time the same mistakes shows up, it’s shame on you for repetition of something that is obviously not working. This is what I call the 2 x 4 moment. The slam up the side of the head that we all do when we say “Gosh, I should have known better.”
And here’s the thing about fear of mistakes. When you go through life being excessively careful because you are afraid of doing something wrong, or making a mistake you are aligning yourself with failure. And the truth of the matter is that what you are most afraid of is being yourself because you are afraid no one will like you. Self-doubt causes a great many mistakes, but you can change that with a different attitude.
We all make mistakes. It’s life’s way of teaching lessons. There are no right or wrong decisions, there are only decisions made on the choices we make, and sometimes it’s the wrong choice. Instead of telling yourself how bad you’ve been, how stupid you are, how careless you are, try changing the thought pattern to “Wow! That was an interesting lesson. Hmm! Next time I’ll do it differently.”
My favorite word when my choice is the wrong one is…NEXT. It is a signal to my brain that we made a left turn instead of a right one, and we make our course correction accordingly.
I like to say we are FAILING OUR WAY TO SUCCESS. It is a wonderful way of rephrasing the mistake issue. Use the word NEXT when you are confronted with failure. It was simply a testing ground, and the test failed. You didn’t. A necessary step towards finding the answers you were looking for. This includes choice of partner, choice of career, choice of where to live. Nothing is ever set in stone for now and forever. Just as you made a choice to get into something, you can make a choice to get out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained cliche.
Making mistakes is essential if we are to make progress in life. We are failing our way to success. Without failure, we can’t possibly understand success, and on a list of success/failures, you will find the successes outweight the failures. Guaranteed. Try it by writing a list out and see what you come up with.
There is art in imperfection. The Japanese call it the Wabi Sabi. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the beauty in something that may look like a mistake. Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings. That our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots, fading and dying plants. Through wabi-sabi we learn to embrace both the success and the failure of our existence. For both have enormous power. Both are the same coin, only different faces.
Learn to trust your mistakes. They are a teaching aid. A gift from the universe to say change direction, this one is not for you. The beauty of life is in the number of opportunities there are to reach our goal.
So set your goals today and do not be afraid of what lessons are inherent in reaching them.
Human behavior expert Jacqueline Wales is known by many to be the Fearless lady. Her programs have helped women around the world develop strong personal success, powerful communication and clear visions of their goals. She is the author of The Fearless Factor, as well as several other compilations, including When The Crow Sings, a novel, and the creator of The 10 Healthy Habits of Fun, Fearless People. She is also the host of her weekly radio show Fearlessly Speaking on Achieve Radio each Sunday at 5pm EST.