I messed up recently and messed up big. On our way back from Costa Rica, I mixed up our return time and we missed our
flight. So we had to buy whole new plane tickets. A pricey mistake. I bought the insurance but it was pretty crappy insurance that only covered extreme things like death. So they didn’t reimburse us.
The importance of this experience wasn’t the mistake I made but my initially reaction to it. I felt like a complete failure. Not a failure at catching flights on time which was the only thing I messed up. A failure at life.
Because surely successful people, people who are worth anything in life don’t make mistakes like this. My husband tried to console me by saying it was just a mistake. You’re allowed a few of those in a lifetime. I responded, “Not that big of a mistake. Those are the mistakes only stupid people make.” It was in this moment the mistake gave me permission to totally demean my whole character. I beat myself up and pretty bad too.
My husband made me look in the mirror and say affirmations. When I did it, I felt so much anger towards myself. I knew something deep was going on here and this was an opportunity to explore a deeper layer of who I was and how I treat myself.
The truth is, mistakes were not ok to me. They are the sign of incompetence.
I realized I was leaving the middle class life behind but still playing by the middle class rules. These rules say the key to happiness is avoiding mistakes at all cost. Something we learned in school no doubt. Mistakes remained on your permanent record forever. They stunt our life and allow people to judge us harshly.
But in the world of living your full potential, mistakes help you grow and be one your best self. They simply point to areas where you can improve. They’re no big deal.
I’m reminded of the scene in The Lion King where the monkey smacks Simba. Simba responds, “Ouch, that hurt! Why did you do that?” And the wise monkey responds, “It doesn’t matter, it was in the past.”
We’d already missed our flight. It was over. No need beating myself up over. That was a waste of energy. The only thing I could do was correct it the best I could and move on.
You are your best self.
When we beat ourselves up and criticize ourselves harshly, it only makes the situation worst. And it degrades our self esteem long term.
Our ability to not make mistakes, to be organized, never forget things, and always do things right is not our greatest asset. We are our best thing — not our perfection.
Eventually I was thankful for my mistake. I thanked God that we could afford to correct it and that we had one more day in paradise. That my husband was supportive and not demeaning. That we learned the challenges of parenthood are becoming more intense and we needed a tighter organizational system to keep it all straight. That I realized I couldn’t do it all by myself and would have to release control over these type of things so my hubby could help. And I thanked God for all the reasons I didn’t know of that this happened.
Here are 4 Ways to Transform Your Mistakes into Lessons.
1. Own your mistake. Admit that you made a mistake. Don’t dwell on it or obsess over it. But do accept responsibility for it and move toward amending it the best way you can.
2. Focus only on this situation. Don’t make generalizations like, “I’m a screw up.” Keep the mistake in perspective. It was only the action that was a mistake. It doesn’t say anything about who you are and your self worth.
3. Forgive yourself. Affirm yourself in the mirror. Say empowering things to yourself in the midst of the negative feelings that come up about the mistake. Train yourself to love yourself even when you mess up.
4. Be grateful for what you learned. Let go and allow the lesson to surface.There’s always a lesson in mistakes, and it may not be the lesson you expect. Recognize it and integrate this lesson into your life.
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