Knowing We All Make Mistakes Doesn’t Make It Easier
Knowing We All Make Mistakes Doesn’t Make It Easier
Expectation can feel like a choke hold on our lives. And even though we all make mistakes, and we know this, somehow we leave little room for errors in our own lives. It’s gotten so bad that we relish when someone else makes a mistake. Looking for the opportunity to take pity on them in some magnanimous gesture. And all the while its insecurity showing up as it always does to rain on someone else’s parade for a change instead of ours. But that doesn’t make it better, it just makes it feel better.
How do we get to a place where we are more accepting of our mistakes? How do we lighten up? It helps to know why we are so hard on ourselves in the first place. In short, we don’t want to let ourselves or anyone else down. Unfortunately, our obsession with perfection is probably causing way more disappointment than a couple of mistakes ever will. So, let’s take a closer look and see how we can understand our mistakes, our thought patterns and our chilling out about it!
Being less than Perfect is Hard
Ok, so we know we all make mistakes, we hear it all the time. But why is it so damn hard to accept? Why, oh why, do we so badly want to be perfect? My heading reads ‘being less than perfect is hard’ and I know that’s how it feels but being ‘perfect’ is so much worse (yes, you got it, it’s impossible). Striving for perfection is exhausting and, since you’ll never get it, all you are really doing is bruising your ego repeatedly for no real reason. Rather accept that we are all imperfect and that means we are on a way more even playing ground than we like to admit.
About the ‘less than perfect’. It should and could be absolutely fine if we can find a way to sort out two things. Self-acceptance and the weight of expectation. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could all relish in the fact that we have licence to be less than perfect! Make those mistakes, get egg on your face! No limits, no holds barred. Everything is on the table because we’re going to make those mistakes either way, we might as well enjoy it. Sounds kind of liberating, doesn’t it?
Expectation from Others
Expectation from others is all around us. It comes from parents, the workplace, social media etc. How educated you are, what you wear, what size you wear and what skin you’re in. All of it unnecessary and quite often hurtful. But here’s the thing, what does it actually achieve? Is it all just a game? A power play? Is this the way we one-up each other? The human race is known for its insecurities, and this is just another way it shows up. Let’s rise above it, shall we!
So, if we can remind ourselves every time some external force wants to shove our mistakes in our face of that little truth called insecurities maybe it will help put it into perspective. And, of course, reminding ourselves that we all make mistake and that includes them. Whoever they are, wherever they come from and whatever their background. It is a constant reminder to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is both for a better understanding of their insecurities that might show up negatively towards you, AND to be more compassionate when they too make mistakes.
Expectation from Ourselves
This one hurts the worst! We can choose to push away the expectation of others, but this is the one we struggle with. First of all, like it or not, other people’s expectations are ultimately our own anyway. We decide what affects us and what doesn’t. Take a look at the successful people of the world. They don’t beat themselves up over the ‘little’ things (in their case often major things and yet they somehow seem to make them little). They also don’t allow other people to get under their skin. They know that we all make mistakes. But, more importantly, they know that the mistakes made them. They wouldn’t be where they are without their mistakes. Truth!
So, make a decision to not worry about what other people think about your mistakes. Do you see the lesson and the value in your mistake? If so, then the mistake has more value than the expectation ever will. Remember that.
And then, of course, there’s the insecurities. We have high expectations while having massive insecurities. It’s a bad combination! So, you might need to ask yourself some difficult questions about why your mistakes affect you so much. Do you feel like making a mistake makes you incompetent, for example. That is an insecurity that is coming from somewhere. Somewhere along the line you made a mistake that was blown out of proportion, and you’ve been carrying it with you. So, ask yourself if you can move passed that hurt and that mistake.
Mistakes that Hurt
What about the mistakes that cause others to suffer? Obviously, these kinds of mistakes can vary in degrees and the damage that is caused by them and this blog cannot possibly cover these deeper levels of ‘mistakes’ because even that itself would come into question. Hurting others is never okay. But, with that said, I won’t be going into anything like that here. That would require professional advice and I recommend seeking it if you are struggling with a personal situation.
I can say that we all make mistakes along the lines of saying something hurtful in a heated argument or offending someone culturally without realizing etc. This kind of mistake is one that we can absolutely learn from and for the most part we feel instant regret as soon as the hurtful words leave our mouths. The good news is if we are able to put our pride in our pockets and apologize it can go a long way in making amends for our hurtful words.
Mistakes are Lessons
Carrying on from the ‘mistakes are lessons’ mentioned above, I want us to remember that our mistakes do not decide our value. We can take the lesson and move past a mistake. The wonderful thing about us humans is our ability to adapt and learn and grow. And, more importantly, to make a conscious choice to do so!
So, the obvious question would be why do mistakes matter? I mean, if we all make mistakes, why do we let it bother us so much? It is rather comical, really, that us heavily flawed human beings want to be ‘perfect’. We want everyone to marvel at how amazing we are. We want them to look up to us and to want to be like us. It’s so bad that we even thrive on witnessing someone else fail.
Quick comic side note: Ever giggled in glee at an Epic Fails video? There are some serious underlying issues on low self-esteem right there. Lol. But seriously, this is us relishing someone else’s failure. Someone else looking foolish. And I’m right in there with you. I love a good treadmill fail! Ha ha! But if we are honest, all we want is to feel like we are not alone in our own failures, flops and faux pas. This twisted comedy is our way of feeling that it’s okay to be human.
Don’t take yourself too Seriously
Then there’s the other side of the coin with the Epic Fail videos. The positive side. And I’m not talking about how it’s just healthy to have a good laugh. I’m talking about not taking yourself too seriously. Life can be so challenging and we need to learn to lighten up, even if it means watching someone slipping on an icy driveway or being dragged through the neighbourhood by their over-excitable dog. This is actually pretty good therapy and a great reminder that we all make mistakes. No one can be perfect all of the time may be a saying but really no one can be perfect ANY of the time, so lighten up.
How to ‘Get over It’
I don’t know that we need to ‘get over it’ because we really can learn and grow from our mistakes. I think the key is to not dwell on them but to allow them to make us stronger through whichever lesson we were meant to learn. It could have been a lesson in compassion, a lesson in perseverance or a lesson in bookkeeping for all we know! But, life is going to send challenges our way and we need to be ready to accept them and move through them. If we go through life with the knowledge that we all make mistakes and actually accept that as being ok we can show up and face life without being so hard on ourselves that the entire lesson is lost.
Keep learning, making mistakes and slipping up on banana peels!
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What a beautifully written article! I agree with you that making mistakes can be painful and hard but it’s part of what makes us human and helps us grow, mature and learn. Obviously, some mistakes are harder to overcome than others but it’s part of human development. Thanks for your beautiful writing!
Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment, Pantea! Mistakes are an inevitable part of life’s experience, I agree!