I recently made a pretty big mistake. It got me thinking…
How do we come to terms with messing up, without becoming messed up? How does ‘I did a bad thing’ not turn into ‘I am a bad person’? How does ‘I made a mistake’ not become ‘I am a screw up’?
Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga, says:
If you make mistakes it doesn’t matter. Make mistakes and learn. The best teachers are your own mistakes. you learn even faster by your mistakes…
Every failure is a stepping stone. Remember, though, that you can’t use the same stone for each step. Every step should be on a new stone. That means you should not keep on making the same mistakes. Learn well from each one…Experience is the best teacher.
Most of us have heard this advice in some version or another since the day people decided we were old enough to take responsibility for our actions. Learn from your mistakes.
It may be the truest, most cliche advice I’ve ever heard. It’s also the most tedious. Taking time to examine your actions and accept that something you did led to a disastrous outcome is not fun. It flat out sucks. It’s way easier to lie on the ground, play dead and let your thoughts beat you to a pulp like an angry gang. Both options hurt, but for some reason self-examination is always way more excruciating than self-flagellation, though much more productive.
So the next time you make a mistake try these steps.
1) Feel it. Get angry, cry, laugh, rage, insult. Do whatever it is that you first feel like doing. Write a nasty letter in your journal or punch a pillow. Let out the emotions in a safe space, keeping it between you and your closests.
2) Take responsibility. Examine the mistake and own your part in it. What could you have done differently? Is there anything you can do to change your situation? If not, what do you need to do in order to accept your mistake and move on? Is an apology in order?
3) Learn the lesson. Often we look back wistfully thinking, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” But we didn’t. However, the next time a similar situation occurs, our knowledge will be tested and we can no longer claim we didn’t know any better. What is the lesson you can learn from this mistake?
4) Practice. Once you’ve identified the lesson, go back over the actions that led to the mistake and make a game plan for the next time you are faced with this challenge. What can you do differently? Are there people you can turn to for help? You can go as far as to write out or discuss with someone else why you may have made the mistake and what can be done to avoid it in the future.
5) Take the test. The test will come. You will be faced with circumstances that echo those that led up to the mistake. If you have done the work and are able to be aware enough to see the situation for what it is, you will pass the test and move on from this mistake. If not you will repeat it again and again until you’ve become aware enough to end it.
I hope these little tips help. It helps to work out mistakes with those you love and trust. Perhaps they will see something you did not. Give it a go. And remember: