By Noni Boon
On a recent trail ride with my mate Trudy, we were discussing the impact of ‘making mistakes’ and how we punish others and ourselves for making them. Making mistakes is a big part of being human however many of us are extremely intolerant of ourselves and also others doing so. Perfectionism is something that we all strive for even though we know it is not achievable. When you make a mistake, do you hold onto it and shame or punish yourself? How then do you forgive yourself and excuse yourself for making mistakes? How do you extend the same ‘grace’ to your colleagues, friends, and family? Let’s explore as Trudy and I did having our very in-depth, philosophical discussion on the backs of our beautiful big geldings.
Firstly, accept that making mistakes is part of your learning. As Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This is a great way of looking at perceived ‘mistakes’. How would you ever know what does work unless you have previously explored what doesn’t? Mistakes are necessary on the journey to success. You can easily change your thinking from a mistake being negative to a mistake being necessary. Mistakes are life’s way of showing you what doesn’t work and steering you in a new direction. Beware though; making the same mistake over and over becomes a ‘decision’. The key is to ‘learn’ through and from your mistakes.
A mistake can either be an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgement, caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, or insufficient knowledge. It can also be a misunderstanding or misconception. When you think about it, how can you know what you don’t know? The process of life is heavily linked to ‘learning’. Nobody comes into this world already knowing all there is to know. One of the greatest joys in life is learning and discovering new things. Have you ever observed the fascination permeating from a child who sees a puppy for the first time? The child then learns that if they pull the puppy’s ear, it will be promptly followed up by a yelp and perhaps a snap of teeth. Mistakes alert us to danger in all shapes and form. Mistakes are necessary for survival.
When you make a mistake, do you chastise yourself, berate yourself or even abuse yourself? I have heard many a tradesman make an error and then use every profanity known to man, directed in and around them. How about being kind to yourself when you make a mistake? Your reaction stems from your ‘inner parent’ and is scripted from when you were a child. If your parents screamed and yelled, it’s highly likely that you will do the same to yourself and the same to your children. I have learnt to stay calm and ‘breathe’ when Lincoln upends two litres of milk on the kitchen floor. After all, it was an innocent mistake mixed with five-year-old clumsiness. I am aware of wanting to teach him to be gentle on himself in the future so my job is to model that for him now.
Lastly, give yourself some grace. If you make a mistake at work or one that costs someone else, wouldn’t you want to receive grace rather than retribution? You can’t receive what you don’t already give so go gently on others. You may feel the temptation to spit chips when somebody gets your order wrong, overcharges you or takes your parking spot because they didn’t see your blinker on but allow them the grace of making a mistake. If you do this, they will adapt this way of being the next time it happens to them and the world will become a far less abusive place for our children and us. Grace is channelled through your spirit and it is a spiritual practice to show love and compassion to others. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. And do unto yourself what is kind and loving. Amen to that!
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Noni Boon is a woman who genuinely cares for people. It gives her great pleasure to be able to live her life helping others to discover their true potential. Her ability to motivate and connect with women – from corporate leaders to stay-at-home mums – has allowed her to bear witness to many amazing transformations. Find out about her online course here.