Accepting Your Mistakes
3:54:41 2023-09-15 425

1- Give yourself permission to mess up. There are many reasons you should give yourself permission to make mistakes. Making mistakes is inevitable and part of being human. It's also a valuable source of instruction and will enrich your life. It can teach you to try new things and expand your horizons.

  • For example, you may want to learn how to cook. Starting out, say to yourself “I’m new at this cooking stuff and I’ll probably make mistakes. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.”
  • Sometimes, the fear of making mistakes—perfectionism—can keep you from trying new things or completing projects because you're so afraid of not doing well that you can't bring yourself to act. Don't let this happen to you.


2- Acknowledge the force of habit. Sometimes, mistakes are not caused by an effort on our part, but the lack of it. We can't exert maximum effort every single day in every element of our lives. Things that we do frequently, such as driving to work or making breakfast, can become so habitual that we don't focus on them. This is actually helpful, because it allows us to spend energy on other things that require more attention. However, sometimes this force of habit can lead us into making mistakes. Acknowledge that this is part of being a human with finite energy and attention resources.

  • For example, perhaps you drive the same way to work every day, 5 days a week. On the weekend, you are supposed to drive your kid to soccer practice, but you realize you've gone on “autopilot” and have started driving to work instead. This is a natural mistake, the result of habit. Beating yourself up for this mistake is unhelpful. Instead, acknowledge your slip-up and move on.
  • Studies suggest that you may be able to compensate for mistakes made on autopilot, even when you aren't aware of them consciously. Studies conducted with skilled typists suggest that you slow down when you make a mistake typing, even if you are not consciously aware of doing so.
  • Studies also suggest that about 47% of the time, people are “checked out”, or allowing their minds to wander from the task at hand. This is often when mistakes happen. If you find that you're frequently making mistakes due to “mind wandering,” consider trying some mindfulness exercises to bring your attention back to the present moment.


3- Distinguish between mistakes and bad decisions. It's important to know the difference between mistakes and bad decisions. Mistakes are simple errors, like reading a map wrong and taking the wrong exit. Bad decisions are more intentional, like taking the scenic route to a meeting and inconveniencing the other person by being late. Mistakes are understandable and may require less focus on correcting. You should accept bad decisions just like mistakes, but it pays to pay more attention to them.


4- View mistakes as an opportunity. There are mechanisms in the brain that help us detect when we do something wrong. The brain signals to us when we make an error. This can be really helpful during the learning process. Making mistakes can help us focus more closely on what we’re doing and try to do our absolute best.

  • Research even suggests that some experts, like doctors, can fail to correct mistakes because they trust their own judgment too much. There are benefits to being open to mistakes and viewing them as an opportunity, even after you've become really good at something.





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