I don’t like making mistakes. Not. One. Bit. I hate how I feel about myself after making a big mistake and I feel completely out of control with the inability to erase and “start over.” And most of all, I hate to cause hurt and come between the people that I love. I want to control my mistakes and manage them out of my life. And usually in this place, I want to seek out everyone who knows and loves me in order to feel loved and secure. However, given that mistakes are part of life and not one of us is perfect, how can we manage our mistakes in a way that allows for growth and grace? How can we use our mistakes as opportunities rather than stumbling blocks in becoming the woman we want to be? As you can see I am still on a journey to discovering this myself, but here are a few of my thoughts…
While it is never a good idea to compare ourselves to others, one thing we do know is that no one is perfect. In moments when we feel embarrassed or ashamed about a misjudgment or mistake, it is easy to give the impression of perfection to cover up for what we feel we lack. Rather than hiding or justifying our mistakes as a masquerade, we are wise to own them and acknowledge the pain they may have caused. Covering up our mistakes only inflicts more injury on those we have hurt. Acknowledging our wrong doing is the first step toward healing.
Stop and Think
While there are some mistakes that require our immediate attention, most often it is more prudent to collect our thoughts and reflect on the situation and the meaning of it rather than reacting out of a need to correct things immediately. Without proper thought and reflection, we cannot fully understand and articulate our thoughts and feelings regarding the mistakes we have made.
Make it Right Where You Can
With mistakes come opportunities for personal growth and further closeness with the people that we love. While we cannot always reverse our mistakes, making them right where we can takes courage on our part and shows genuine remorse for our missteps. Sometimes this means a simple fix and sometimes all we can do is express our apology and ask what we can do moving forward.
See the Other Side
Often when we are in the wrong, we too feel wronged. While our feelings certainly matter, it is important to attempt to see the situation from the others’ perspective and focus on making the changes we need to make on our side of the line. Nothing will ever change, if we aren’t willing to make the changes that are within our power to make. This will be much easier if we can see the other’s perspective.
Let it Go and Move On
This is the final step. If we let our mistakes go and move on too early we miss the opportunity to grow and learn. However, punishing ourselves for our imperfections beyond the point of growth breeds unnecessary shame. If you find yourself committing to punishing yourself, think about what feelings might be driving this reaction. Is it possible that you feel that deep down you are not good enough? Do you constantly feel the need to prove your worth? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” perhaps it is time to define yourself by who you are instead of what you do.
The truth is, we are much more than our mistakes and are valuable apart from our imperfection. While it is crucial to learn, grow, and move on from our mistakes, wearing them as scars will not serve us personally or relationally. Understanding ourselves to be valuable no matter how we perform, will free us to handle our mistakes appropriately, without the need to cover them up or punish ourselves. Mistakes are still not pleasant for me, but I have learned to see them as opportunities for further depth and closer connections with the people I love.
Image via Modern Hepburn