One of the best, worst things about being human is that every last one of us makes mistakes. Whether they’re at work, in our relationships, or in the way that we treat ourselves as people, they’re bound to happen. I certainly know that I’ve made my share of mistakes in life, in all of the areas mentioned above and a few more, I’m sure.
Here, I want to take some time to think about how we can not only come to terms with the mistakes that we’ve made, but use them as opportunities to grow and improve as professionals, community members, and people.
Making Mistakes Hurts
It is zero fun to make a mistake in any area of life. They often come with shame, more than a little anxiety, and, sometimes, short or long-term physical and financial pain. I do not think it would be healthy to try to force yourself to ignore whatever kind of pain that your mistakes have caused you or others.
Instead, I suggest conceptualizing pain differently: it’s your mind and/or body giving you a clear signal that something has gone wrong. With that signal in mind, a mistake becomes a question: what can I do to make this better in the future?
Check your Ego at the door
You have made mistakes. You’ll make some more in the future. If that offends you, I am sorry, but, sadly, that comes with the territory of being part of our species.
If we maintain some idea of ourselves that does not allow for the making of mistakes, I think we’re making a much larger error. Since our mistakes are simply signals to think and improve, then ignoring those signals out of ego makes very little sense to me, as it deprives you of the opportunity for self improvement.
It’s about Learning and Healing
With the idea in mind that the pain from our mistakes is a signal to do better, I want to make one more assertion; you cannot, as far as I know, go back in time and fix errors you’ve already made in any area of life.
What you can do, however, is take the lessons learned and do a few things. If it’s something that only affects you, then you can work towards fixing it without judging your past self harshly: that won’t help you move forward. If there are others who are owed an apology, give it freely and with a committed plan to make things better.
Overall, it’s okay to admit not only that we make mistakes, but that doing so can and does cause pain to ourselves and others. With that recognition in mind, and perhaps only then, we can analyze what’s going on and work towards making our lives, and those of others, just a little bit better.