A few years ago I had one of the most important ‘ah ha’ moments of my life. We had some friends over for dinner and we were having such a good time chatting away, that I completely forgot about the garlic bread in the oven. The black smoke and stench of a million veldt fires soon reminded me of the bread in the oven. The garlic goodness was now a pile of ash and I was furious with myself. I stormed into the kitchen, flung open the oven door, threw the pan in the sink, all the while mumbling and making a scene. Tertius comes into the kitchen like one of those circus trainers with a whip and a chair, approaching an angry lion. He asks whats wrong and I go off about how I can’t believe I burnt the bread. He took me by the hand, looked into my eyes and with the calmest voice said “It’s okay babe, it was just a mistake. No need for a scene”. At that moment, for the first time in 27 years, the penny dropped. It was just a mistake and it was okay.
I, like so many of us, grew up where we were scolded for making a mistake. I don’t think there was any maliciousness on the part of our elders, it is what they were taught and they just repeated the lesson. Unfortunately we became adults who couldn’t live with ourselves when we made a mistake. Making a mistake is like failing at life. We can’t make a mistake, because being wrong means we aren’t perfect (gasp!). We can’t say ”sorry” because that is admitting to a fault. We will engage in a battle to the death in order for us to avoid admitting we were wrong… …Do you see how many things are the result of labeling a mistake as ‘unacceptable’?
It takes character to be someone who doesn’t dwell on past mistakes.
But mistakes aren’t bad. They aren’t Armageddon. They don’t mean you suck. They are just mistakes. As in “oops”.
Mistakes should be treated as opportunities to learn and grow. When we view mistakes in that light they become beneficial to our journeys. Yes, repeating a mistake again and again is BAD. Not learning from the mistakes you make is stupid, but beating yourself up about every mistake is not the way to go. Its exhausting and a bit self-indulgent, if we’re really honest.
In Xeresh’s growing up she has had many ‘oopsies’ and my favorite thing when she has one is her saying; “its okay, its okay”. She knows its okay to make a mistake, as long as we learn and grow. Next time we do it differently. When her mistakes affect other people she knows she should apologize and then move on. “Sorry” isn’t a curse word and admitting you’re wrong is a sign of strength. It takes strength to be ‘okay’ with making mistakes. It takes character to be someone who doesn’t dwell on past mistakes. It is a strong woman who isn’t afraid to be wrong.
Being wrong or making mistakes DOES NOT MAKE US FAILURES, IT JUST MEANS THERE ARE THINGS WE NEED TO LEARN and that is alright.