The art of making mistakes

Making mistakes has a bad rep.

We all do it, we make mistakes, we mess up, we get things wrong.

But what I have come to realize is that it is not the action of making the mistake that is harmful to us, moreover it is the psychological backlash we elicit on ourselves afterwards. The reflecting on the ‘I should have done that differently’, or the ‘I shouldn’t have said that’. But something that we need to remember is that it is okay to make mistakes. It is actually a good thing.

On a basic, psychological level, mistakes enable self-improvement. Fortunately, (and as a result of our simple psychological make-up), we frequently learn through conditioning. I.e. we learn through trial and error. For example, do something ‘wrong’ = do it better next time. If you’re not making mistakes you aren’t improving and maybe not challenging yourself enough.

The thing is. Life is much more than your worst day and much much more than your most recent mistake.

Dolly Alderton, one of my current favourite journalists rightly said, “We live in a time when it’s easy to think our entire existence deserves to be cancelled for our inevitable failings, but messing up is an essential part of being human” On the flip side, she also says “You are so much more than your best day, your funniest joke or your most-liked instagram post.”

I think we live in a world where a lot of value about individuals is based upon their achievements or their shortcomings. But these things are so insignificant and are highly unrepresentative of who you actually are.

Ultimately, I think a large source of our anxieties stem from our fear of making mistakes, catastrophizing the outcomes if we do. But we forget that when or if, in reality, we make said mistake the outcome is often largely less catastrophic than imagined and can even be a good thing because you learn to do things differently in the future. The only way is up.

So, I challenge you to change your mindset from worrying and anticipating failure, to welcoming learning and growth.

Happy Sunday

Leila x

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