Embracing mistakes: how to turn missteps into stepping stones
August 17, 2023
"How embarrassing! What an idiot. You're so dumb. Way to ruin the brand's credibility."
That was my mind on loop for hours after emailing thousands of subscribers saying, "Curation 2022 Diary Just Launched!" when, in fact, it was the 2023 diary launch. Facepalm.
This is such a tiny mistake in the whole scheme of things, right? I mean, nobody got hurt. Only my ego, leading to some soul-crushing self-talk.
It took some time for the cheek-burning embarrassment to subside and get to a place where I could turn down the volume of my inner critic.
The biggest takeaway from this experience was learning that there is no such thing as failure. It's just feedback. And wisdom really is born from setbacks.
Here are five ways to help you see mistakes as a valuable experience contributing to your growth and journey.
#1 Mistakes don't define you. Mistakes are part of being human.
It can be hard to put the breaks on a self-loathing state of mind. You feel like you deserve every word of negative feedback you say to yourself. But what you really need is to forgive yourself and move on.
You can gain perspective and dial down the intensity of what just happened when you learn lean on the fact that everyone in the world makes mistakes every day. You're not alone. You're not a loser. You're just human.
#2 Embrace imperfection with self-compassion.
Give yourself some space to cry and breathe if that's what you need. But practice self-compassionate to get your mind back on track. In the moment, it may be hard to feel that you are worthy of giving yourself some kindness and compassion, and it may not feel immediately comforting but trying will help stop your mind from spiralling.
And if self-compassionate isn't something that comes naturally, try talking to yourself like you would to a loved one who has made the same mistake.
How would you lift their spirits without dismissing their feelings?
How would you counsel them?
What would you say to restore their confidence?
What would you say to help build back their self-esteem?
The idea here is to process your feelings but not let your mistakes crush your self-esteem, your confidence and your spirit and know that you have the opportunity to build resilience one step at a time.
#3 Accept your mistakes.
It takes courage to admit that you messed up, but accepting responsibility helps defuse any tension and restores a sense of calm over the situation.
Because when you start to shift the blame or hide your mistake, you'll remain stuck in a state of shame, prolonging your agony and frustration rather than moving forward.
A mindful response to a situation will say more about who you are rather than the mistake you made. Likewise, if someone wants to carry on and blame you for an error, understand that it is saying a lot about them, and you have permission not to take on the burden of their words.
Your bravery and honesty will show others that they, too, can own it and not feel shamed and blamed when they make a mistake.
#4 Every stumble is a chance to improve.
When you accept that mistakes are part of life, you can tap into the logical part of your brain and ask yourself:
What steps can I take now to fix or improve the situation?
What can I do to avoid making the same mistake in the future?
Where do I need to ask for help?
What systems and processes will I need in place in the future?
The goal is to direct your thoughts towards actions that will lead to improvements and cultivate self-reflection and wisdom.
#5 Honour the experience and find the lesson.
Mistakes can take up a lot of brain space and become draining if you let them. But your experiences, both positive and negative, shape who you will become. And learning to embrace what comes can be empowering.
You'll acquire the wisdom and self-awareness to make better choices and decisions for yourself and those around you.
This small switch in how you view your mistakes can restore your confidence, your self-esteem and your self-worth.
With this mindset, you can constructively cope with setbacks you experience and know that after the initial onset of embarrassment, guilt and regret, something good can always come out of it.
And finally, never let one dark cloud cover the entire sky. Keep shining and moving forward.