Did you know that the Microwave, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cornflakes, Silly Putty, The Slinky, Penicillin, Wheaties, Potato Chips and Post-It Notes notes were all created as the result of a mistake?! Yes, it’s true. Everybody makes mistakes both big and small, whether you like it or not. And to be real, it may feel uncomfortable or sting pretty bad when they happen. What sets people apart with our inevitable fate to make mistakes is how we handle them. Do you get angry, vow to never try again, cry, cover it up or walk through life making every effort not to make mistakes? You’re certainly not alone, it’s human nature to react when we have setbacks. It makes us vulnerable, challenges our self-worth and can be incredibly frustrating. While there’s no denying the challenges that come along with making mistakes, it’s important to remember the best part about making mistakes is learning from them and using them as momentum to become better. Here are some tips on how to change your thinking about making mistakes:
- I believe that the biggest mistake you can make is expecting not to make them. If you believe you’re not supposed to make mistakes, it’s time to reevaluate your expectations. Setting your expectations too high is pretty much setting yourself up for disappointment. As perfect as we’d all like to be, it’s not happening. At some point you will make a mistake and that’s okay.
- Change your self-talk: Beating yourself up over a mistake is never productive and can lead to depressive thoughts. Instead, look at your mistake and ask yourself “What can I do differently next time?” You can’t always change a mistake, but you can learn from it and become stronger for it.
- Get comfortable with admitting your mistakes: Be honest with yourself and own up to it. Denial is just reinforcing your resistance to making a mistake. Admit it, you made a mistake, you’re human. You may find others will respect you more for your honesty as well.
- Stop avoiding your feelings: As I mentioned above, it’s likely to sting but that sting will go away with time. Remind yourself, “this feeling will pass, everybody makes mistakes.”
- Remember that mistakes don’t define you: I see people all the time who see their self-worth as the result of their performance. We are all so much more than the sum of our work performance, school performance or ability to do something perfectly. Our character makes us who we are-remember that.
While mistakes are clearly not always as fun as the inventions above, we can learn to embrace them and be easier on ourselves and others when they are made-and mistakes will be made. I’ve seen many individuals of all ages suffering with anxiety over making mistakes. You don’t have to live your life afraid to fall, you can live a fulfilling life filled with mistakes and fixes. After all it’s truly not about the fall, it’s how you pick yourself up—and who wants to stay down anyway?!
If you or your child feel anxious about making mistakes, call A Little Counseling. We love helping our client’s develop the skills needed to handle everyday life, mistakes included!