1. an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
There is no such thing as a mistake.
If someone had told me that years ago, I would not have believed it. Then, I thought nearly everything I did and said was just wrong. I made myself miserable over mis-steps, mis-statements, mistakes. I got so caught up in my errors that they became obsessions.
It took many years, much pain, a lot of experience, and even more practice, but I came to this truth:
There is no such thing as a mistake, as long as we learn from it.
The most successful people make more mistakes than achievements. It is simply not possible to be perfect at something at first try. In fact, it’s rare than anyone – even the most accomplished musician, athlete, actor, dancer, engineer, writer – ever does anything perfectly.
So what if, instead of shooting for perfection, we aimed for growth? If a mistake is an error from lack of thought or knowledge, we can use it as an indicator of an area needing improvement.
What would happen if the next time you made what you thought was a mistake, you did something different? Rather than beating yourself up or obsessing over what you did wrong, what if you instead chose to see your actions as positive?
Mistakes are mechanisms of change!
Every “mistake” is an opportunity to learn so that we can do something different the next time. Even if we keep making what seems to be the same mistake over and over again, we still do not have to despair. There is a lesson in there for us, if we just stay in awareness. Eventually we can gain insight into why we are doing what we do, and what could help us make a change.
When I lived with an alcoholic, I kept making the mistake of arguing with him about ending his drinking and going into treatment. It always ended poorly – either he agreed he needed help and then just kept drinking, giving me false hope, or he argued that my attitude drove him to drink. Even though I knew it wasn’t helping, I could not stop the behavior until I gained the insight that his drinking was completely out of my control. Nothing I said or did had any effect. But I could work on my own attitudes, and when I did that, over time I was able to stop arguing with him and focus instead on improving my own life.
Mistakes are human. And that’s a good thing. Our errors do not define us.
We are not mistakes. We make mistakes. And we can learn from them.
So it’s not that we need to stop making errors – it’s that we must stop judging ourselves for them. Rather, let us embrace and look at mistakes as opportunities to learn, grow, change and become better for the experience.
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