You ate too much junk food while watching TV last night. You were late picking your daughter up from gymnastics. You hit the delete button when you meant to save the document you’ve just spent hours on… Everybody makes mistakes every day of their lives. Some can turn out well; others turn out badly. The important thing is how you handle them when they happen.
What makes it difficult is that we live in a society that is not tolerant of mistakes. It criticizes and punishes mistakes. There’s a constant pressure to do more and be better. As a consequence, it may become very difficult to accept the mistakes made by self or others. Mistakes often cause a person to become ashamed, defensive, or angry. When a person’s view of mistakes becomes distorted, it can lead to social phobias, fearing you won’t be liked by others or striving to be perfect, which is an impossible and exhausting endeavor.
Rather than focusing on all the ways, you failed in a situation, think about all the things you did right. For example, perhaps you lost your temper with your partner and said things you wish you hadn’t BUT then you cooled down and apologized and began a conversation that resulted in each of you understanding the other better. For every one mistake, you make that really bothers you, list at least two things that you do right in the circumstances.
This exercise will remind you that you are not defined by your mistakes. It will boost your confidence to meet your mistakes head-on, do what you can to fix them, or accept them and learn to laugh at yourself. See if it doesn’t give you a more positive frame of mind the next time you make a mistake.
If you find yourself worrying too much over what other people think of you, and fear of humiliation in front of others causes you to avoid situations where you are the center of attention, think seriously about consulting with a trained mental health professional so you can get realistic feedback about yourself. If you live near Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, contact my office and schedule an appointment.
2 Replies to “Make Mistakes Work for You”
Thank You for your simple, practical, and easily implemented approach to our imperfections. Being NT in a relationship with ASP I get inundated with every past ‘mistake’ and ‘misdeed’. I, personally, don’t look at life with that lens; he does. I try to remind him of the work/conversations that followed and all positives vs negative ratios. Nevermind him, this would be nice for me, positives just for me would be very reassuring.
Journaling would be good for my soul. Yes, I make mistakes, I am conscious and try to correct them.
First be kind and forgive yourself. How hard is it really to be positive to others, but when we are in a relationship with those on the Spectrum, these positive comments are rare. They tend to notice what is, not what we are feeling and needing in the way of support.