Dodging a mistake is more distressing than making one.
It took me long to realize that I might never reach perfection—I’m only human with various emotions that I can’t always keep at bay.
I have finally accepted that with all my goodness and will to become a better person, making mistakes is inevitable.
The issue isn’t about how to stop making mistakes; rather, it is how to work with the mistakes we make. And, believe it or not, when we work properly with our shortcomings, they minimize with time.
We’re all familiar with the line “I didn’t do it.” Starting from a young age, we use it to escape punishment. Then, we grow up and keep saying these words. We’re unaware that sooner or later, holding on to a mistake becomes a barrier, and that the only exerted punishment comes from ourselves.
One self-justification begets another. Gradually, we create an unhealthy pattern. Whenever we make a mistake, we use it as a justification of our choices. Let’s say we f*cked up in a relationship. We may use our flaws as an excuse to avoid future ones.
Another scenario is to keep doing wrong over and over again and blaming other people for it. For example, if we cheat in a relationship, we may claim that our partner deserved it. Or, if we fail an exam, we may claim the questions were too tough. That said, self-justification is all about blame—either ourselves, others, or life. Either way, the mistake becomes a hindrance.
I understand that owning up to our mistakes is arduous, because we’re naturally ego-driven. When something wrecks our self-image, it feels upsetting, since we’re the person from whom we seek validation the most.
However, our deficiencies are an opportunity for our transformation. It’s a chance to transform our failures from a barrier into a steppingstone. This is what mistakes are for.
Below are a few tips on how we can transform our mistakes and use them to grow:
Recognize a mistake.
Whenever you find yourself masking something, know there is a mistake at its core. Follow your intuition on this one. How do you feel about it? When we do something wrong, our hearts never leave us in peace. We might feel discomfort, heaviness in the chest, or simply feel that there’s something wrong.
Don’t make excuses.
The instant you feel you’re about to make an excuse, pause for a moment. Observe how your ego defends itself with “if only,” “but,” and “that’s just how I am.” Know that this is our ego’s reaction to run away from guilt. If you can’t pause, try to observe your mind creating excuses. Watch them until they dissipate on their own.
Accept the mistake.
When we know we did something wrong, our common reaction might be, “I’m so bad,” “I f*cked up,” “it’s their fault,” and so forth. How about we try the other way around? How about we say, “Okay. This is where I went wrong.” Don’t mask it; accept it.
Search for the lesson.
Then, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? Where did I go wrong? How should I behave the next time I’m faced with the same situation?” This is the most important part of the entire process. This is where we transform the mistake into a steppingstone. Let’s analyze the mistake and apply the lesson.
Once we learn the lesson, it’s time to take action—either with ourselves or with the person involved. What are the amendments that we can make? Can we still solve it with the person with whom we have wronged? Are we the person we should solve it with?
This is precious, because not forgiving ourselves can keep us stuck. How do we forgive ourselves? We must understand the causes and conditions that have forced us to act in a particular way.
Love yourself enough to be okay with your sh*t.
Your sh*t is your blessing, trust me. Loving ourselves doesn’t only mean loving the good parts. By and large, we have to honor our dark side, so we can transform it into light. Part of self-love is to admit our shortcomings. Know that it’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s crucial to learn from them. To make a mistake is not a failure. In fact, clinging to it is the failure. Mistakes are success in disguise.
Feeling responsible is freakin’ awesome.
It’s part of growing up, really. Or else, what difference is there between who we are today and the eight-year-old us? Taking responsibility for our failures can be liberating. However, don’t guilt-trip yourself. Admit the mistake, work through it, learn from it, and then drop it once the work is done.
Last but not least, enjoy who you become after learning from your mistakes.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May