Yes, it was a bad television commercial for some kind of medical alert bracelet, but how many times have you found yourself getting caught up in one mistake and either a)letting it suck you dry and giving up entirely on whatever it was you were attempting or b)focusing so much on the mistake you just made that you make another because you’re so stuck mentally on a past error you can’t see what’s right in front of you?
I have lost weeks of my life and productivity and happiness and peace because I could not see past my own mistakes. Whether I sacrificed my mood, my attention, or my own perception of myself, I have made Mt. Everest out of problems that started out the size of mouse poop…that seriously ended up the size of two mountains and a mini-van because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way.
(And don’t ask me how I know what the size of a mouse poop is. I just know.)
When you make a mistake, do you find yourself doing any of the following?
- Generalizing – “Well, I guess I’ll just add that to my long list of things I’ve screwed up” and then look back over your metal inventory of errors;
- Freezing – Getting so stuck in thinking through every dire and terrible thing that will surely come as a consequence of your mistake that you can do nothing else;
- Negative Self-Talk – I’m such an idiot, I’m a failure, and then of course calling your friends/associates not for help solving the problem but to talk negatively about yourself to them as a sort of self-punishment;
- Ruminating – where you literally can’t think straight or notice what is going on around you because your brain is so focused on what you had done wrong that you’re in a mental and emotional tailspin;
- Blaming – hoping like hell there is someone else you can pin the error on to take the heat off yourself in any way possible so you don’t have to own what you did;
- Hiding – Making great efforts to cover up your mistake or praying simply that no one else notices and trying to convince yourself you hadn’t noticed either
Take it from someone who knows and has been there: if you’re looking for a way to waste your life, breath, and energy and potentially endanger your health, job, self-worth and friendships, then feel free to continue, but it’s not something I’d recommend.
Here’s the difficult thing: whatever it is – it’s done. The only safe way to handle a mistake is to look it straight in the face, own it, take responsibility for it and whatever that entails. You then try to find a solution for it, make reparations, and problem-solve as effectively and as completely as possible and move on, trying not to repeat the mistake.
Moving on, by the way, means *really* moving on. Leave it in the sand. Drop it. Forgive yourself. I once heard it said like this: your body doesn’t ask if you are worthy when it knows there has been damage done. It just starts work on healing what’s there without judgement. Do that for yourself. Take the next best steps whatever those are, one at a time.
How many years of your life could we get back if we treated ourselves with the same objectivity when we messed up, and worked to fix our issues and mistakes without the judgment, shame, or mental mess that so often trips us up? What if we treated others the same way? Oh what a world we could create!
Get Back Up. Brush Yourself Off. Rub some dirt on it. Life is a giant adventure and you’ve got better things ahead and no time to waste! Get up and get at them today!