How did you learn to attach painful experiences to “mistakes?” Do you still feel shame or embarrassment about past behaviors that didn’t serve you well? Do you have a judgmental voice in your head always criticizing? What if that burden were lifted?
She is three and exploring her world. Imagine a three-year-old child exploring the world and learning about gravity. She falls down a slippery slope. Do you berate her for making a mistake? She can’t learn about gravity or friction without experiencing how she interacts with these forces. Is that learning experience a mistake?
Do you berate yourself? Now, as an adult, you have experienced some negative consequences in your own life. What does our internal judge say? “You made a MISTAKE!” For many of us, this brings feelings of guilt or even deeper shame. Some of us felt traumatized by early reprimands, so to keep ourselves “safe,” we avoid taking risks, lying about our mistakes, defending ourselves, or even harboring feelings of unworthiness.
What if mistakes didn’t reflect the value of our own worthiness? What if we didn’t need to be defensive? What if we corrected or fixed any negative impact we had on others as part of our learning process? How would this change your life’s trajectory?
What if mistakes were simply feedback?
Here is an exercise:
When you find your critical voice berating you for a “mistake,” put a dollar in a big “mistake” pot. Every time. However, when you respond to an experience with a less than desirable outcome with “Here is what I am learning…” take a dollar out and put it in a “reward” pot.