Your Biggest Mistakes May Be Your Best Tools
We are all guilty. That’s right, we all make mistakes. I am sure we can all relate to those daily mistakes like waking up too late, running out of toilet paper, overbooking appointments, or breaking a dish. Although these are frustrating, they are usually easy to overcome. Then there are those mistakes that rip us apart. The big ones!
A DUI, a one night stand, a drunken injury, lying to a best friend, fist fighting, cheating on your significant other, or quitting a job without justification are a few examples of big mistakes. These are the issues that bring about great shame and guilt. They are not like the little mistakes. No, they are much more damaging. They can torment us, impact our relationships, and prevent us from progressing in life. Although no one can go back and undo their mistakes, we can look at them in a positive light. I would even argue that your biggest mistakes may be your most powerful tools for moving forward. Here is why!
- A Mistake Provides A Warning That You Are Swaying From Baseline
Most people have an understanding of right and wrong. If this understanding did not exist you wouldn’t have the capacity to call something a mistake. The fact that we actually feel guilt and shame after making a mistake is a fantastic gift. In fact, these feelings allow us to create a personal baseline. This baseline should then be your foundation for personal growth. For instance, let’s pretend that someone quit their job purely based off unjustified anger. If this person did not identify this as a mistake, then their would be no change in this problematic behavior. If this person did identify this as a big mistake, they would then have the ability to move forward and correct this issue in their life. Essentially, a mistake is an eye opener. It’s a warning that we are swaying away from our moral baseline.
- A Mistake Makes You Human
Life is not all lollipops and candy canes. A lot of people have the idea that a great life is one in which they are always happy. This isn’t so. As a clinical social worker, I have the privilege of engaging with people through a full range of emotion. Often, the more difficult emotions such as pain, regret, and sorrow are led on by mistakes. Although these emotions are extremely difficult to sit with, they provide the most growth. If you can explore and process your painful emotions, you will come out stronger and have a much deeper understanding of yourself. Humans were created with incredible resiliency. We all have the ability to overcome. There is something extremely beautiful about experiencing a full range of human emotion. This was a gift provided to us and we need to utilize all emotions to their maximum potential.
- Mistakes Provide Unique Opportunities
A mistake is not a one-and-done experience. All too often people succumb to their mistakes and become a prisoner to the guilt. Consequently, they end up making the same mistake over and over again. However, each mistake needs to be cherished as a unique opportunity. A mistake provides an opportunity to do something good. For instance, a person who receives a DUI can feel bad and shameful, but continue to drive drunk or they can utilize that DUI as an opportunity to change their drinking patterns for the better. Utilizing a mistake as an opportunity fosters development, improves self esteem, and builds strong moral character. Sure you’re going to feel crappy about your biggest mistakes, but you can work through this and prosper.
Life is full of mistakes. You will continue to trip and stumble until you leave this earth. It’s easy to fall prey to either “ it was only a one time thing and I won’t do it again” or “ I am a horrible person for this and I can’t do anything about it”. Complacency and/or overwhelming guilt will ensure you continue making the same mistakes. The beauty of being a human being is our ability to grow. Growth takes time, stimulation, and persistence. Mistakes can be the fuel we need to develop into our ideal self.