How do you feel when you get something wrong?
Before COVID, I would ask rooms full of people, “hands up if you’ve ever made a little mistake?” I’d stand there with my hand up and of course, the whole room would smile or giggle and put theirs up too. It seems funny at the time, that we have a shared connection as humans when we realise, at some point in our lives, we’ve all screwed something up.
But, as I then explain, when we mess up our inner critic can be brutal. Even if, in the end it was really “nothing” (like realising you’re wearing your top back to front – haven’t we all done that?):
We beat ourselves up.
Call ourselves names.
We worry “what on earth will people think of me”.
As Pema Chödrön says, sometimes the hardest times we have are the ones we give ourselves.
What if there’s another way?
This week, set the intention to Embrace the Mistake. Recognise that throughout this week (this month, this life), there may well be an occasion when you realise you’ve made a blunder. Instead of calling yourself an idiot (or worse), remind yourself “it happens”. Then maybe ask yourself the question as Tara Brach suggests “What would it be like, in this moment, to be kind to myself?” Pause before you judge yourself, take a deep breath and say something kind instead.
Of course you may hold in your mind a mistake that wasn’t as small. A time in your life when you got something “wrong”, you feel troubled by guilt or regret. Again, remember you’re human and then own it if you can. This article explains The Pratfall Effect, and how bizarrely showing up to our mistakes can make us more likeable to others. Give yourself a period – not too long – of reflection and compassionate self-correction if needed; the intention that whatever you may have done wrong that you’ll never do it again. As Maya Angelou once said it’s ok to “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it”.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2021