3 Reasons to STOP HIDING in Shame over your Mistakes, already
My dad is a smart man and an absolute demon on the Internet. As his not-so-tech-savvy daughter, but the one of us two who “grew up” with it, I do feel a certain responsibility to steer him towards reputable sites and to encourage him to question the sources. But, still, he absorbs information like the proverbial sponge. Particularly history. His latest obsession is with the Irish potato famine.
For the smart, strong, silent type, he can be a curiously social man, too, who enjoys short, intense interactions with others at the grocery store or the post office. He and my mom being the second generation of parents who immigrated to Canada themselves, he’s usually very interested in their ancestry and genealogy. Vital statistics like their date and place of birth, who their parents were, and where those families originally came from.
When I still lived at home and he would repeatedly inevitably come to ask about someone in our small town, our friends or someone new that moved in, some of us kids got sassy back and would say, “Dad, it’s not written on his t-shirt.” It happened so often, we just couldn’t simply say we didn’t know anymore.
And what the hell does any of that have to do with you?? With YOU making mistakes and learning something valuable from them? Thank you for kindly indulging me, but let’s get to that…
Here’s 3 great lessons to learn from what – granted, at the time — might have felt like some of the worst mistakes of your life:
1. Let what you absolutely know you never what to repeat guide you to what you do truly want.
If you have recently gone through a breakup and you’re thinking and dreaming (or very likely lamenting) about the kind of person you want to be with next, I think it’s awfully tempting to describe someone pretty much opposite to the one it didn’t work with. Mr. Wrong… meet Mr. Right. You don’t know what you don’t know, though, right? That experience makes it easier to refine what you want going forward.
You don’t know what you don’t know
Same with experiences. How do you know if you like something or not, if you don’t at least give it a go? Do you like the organized and social aspect of a yoga class or the latest fitness trend, or would you rather take your dog for a walk outside? Maybe you think you’d like to take a painting class, but you keep talking yourself out of it. Ultimately, because you’re scared you might really suck at it. But you can’t expect yourself to be good at everything right off the bat. Not everyone is going to sit down at the piano or pick up a guitar and knock out a hit first time. Or week. Or even year. But people do get there. What makes them so special? In a good way. That they can. And what makes you so special? But in the other way. That you just assume you can’t.
Practice makes… actually we’re not even gonna go there, because…
(By the way… at our puppy training classes, I believe their take on it was “practice makes permanent.”)
2. Isn’t it liberating — and interesting — and more fun — not to be perfect?
Every trait of a human being has a light and a dark side. And in my humble opinion, if you search the Internet long and sometimes not even hard enough, you can find justification for pretty much anything and everything. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Are you a perfectionist? Maybe you feel like it’s motivated by your desire to be the best you can be and your attention to detail and not quitting until you get things right. What’s wrong with that?
Maybe that serves you particularly well in, say, your work setting. Or your discipline for eating clean and going to the gym, to drop some weight, train to run a marathon or to meet another goal.
Not so well, though, in other areas of your personal life. If you are paralyzed, for fear of making a mistake and having that somehow blemish your air of being perfect. Your need to feel safe and to maintain some kind of a perfect image just might be keeping your world small.
Your need to feel safe
just might be keeping your world small
3. Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time.
Mistakes fall on a spectrum, right? Maybe you send out an email with a spelling mistake. Not such a big deal at all. Okay, your job happens to involve a lot of proofreading…. so that’s actually pretty ironically funny.
Maybe you’re in a relationship with someone, though, and you choose to do something that, in the end, requires more of an expert than you, like a lawyer (or two), to set things straight. On the good days, you see it as an exercise in standing up for and empowering yourself. On the bad days, you might question yourself, if you’re just being a vindictive bitch about it all. And it’s expensive. And some of the details are… well, pretty ugly to have to relive in the retelling.
Those kinds of mistakes on that end of the spectrum can be more challenging to find any humour in. You might even get caught up in some cycle of masochistic self-punishment.
But, especially with the benefits of time and space and looking at it through a different pair of glasses, it actually was not the worst-case scenario. No one died or was physically or permanently harmed. (No, your ego does not count.) So no need to magnify.
And no need to turn a bad or ill-informed decision into shame and wear a bunch of labels that that voice in your head wants to pin on you. YOU as a person ARE NOT fundamentally bad or wrong or a loser or stupid or… or any of those things. You’re human. Flat out. Cut yourself some slack.
Cut yourself some slack.
Designer labels OR the invisible ones you ascribe to yourself… you decide what to wear. For all your experiences – good and not-go-great-at-all-thank-you-very-much – now you’re smarter, better-informed, less judgemental and more compassionate (with yourself, especially), patient, well-rounded, practiced, capable, equipped to deal with what life inevitably throws at you, worldly. The list goes on. Dare I say… even “adventurous”? <wink> Interesting. Wise. Most definitely totally human. Uniquely you.
Why don’t you put that on your t-shirt?
And, Dad… please remember that not everything you read on the Internet is true.
Ready to cut yourself some slack, let go of the shame of your past and move forward making more confident decisions? Click here to join the Be THAT Woman support community on Facebook and connect with other women who are right there with you.
So far, I am loving your site! Your articles are insightful and straight to the core of what we women sometimes do in our quest for perfect, mistake-proof lives. It is much more fun to think of new things as “experiments” where failure is just as vital as success when it comes to building your knowledge base. As for your dad, I love genealogy too. Maybe he can help add to the truth of the internet by entering his discoveries on one of the genealogy sites! 🙂
Thanks for your time and attention, Barbara, and the kind and encouraging words. I really appreciate it. I didn’t know that genealogy was one of your interests. Don’t think it ever came up. An interesting suggestion for my dad, for sure. 🙂