If you are making a scolding of yourself for any mistakes made and aren’t used to putting up with the fact that sometimes something may not work out, keep reading. Let’s figure out where in the world people get such severity toward themselves, why it doesn’t help you become a better person, and how you can do things differently.
Why We Avoid Making Mistakes
To get you up to speed, let’s start with an example.
Let’s imagine that you have been asked to present to your colleagues the results of your department’s work for the week. You tried to deny it because you have little experience in public speaking, your voice sounds wrong, and your laptop has a bad camera. But they asked so insistently that in the end we had to agree anyway.
These people didn’t seem to care that much about you being a professional speaker, or they would have turned to someone else. Which means it matters to you. Why?
Actually, it might not have been a presentation, but a karaoke performance, a game you have found out about after reading a Gladiator slot review, or anything else. All situations where you don’t feel competent have one thing in common: the fear of failure. More specifically, the prospect of shame and guilt. By avoiding these unpleasant feelings, we avoid cases in which we might make a mistake.
People are afraid not of the mistakes themselves, but of their consequences. Sometimes it’s even useful, in some cases, mistakes are really expensive. But in these cases, an incompetent person is unlikely to be asked for help. Still, more often the fear of mistakes isn’t due to the loss of face with a dismissal or an explosion at a nuclear power plant, but to difficulty tolerated emotions.
Where It All Starts
Many of us grew up among inflated expectations, comparisons to others, and categorical attitudes.
If you did well, well done; if you did badly, get punished. At school we were given grades that sometimes made us afraid to go home. And if any failure happened in front of our peers, they would laugh snidely and point fingers for a long time afterwards.
Maybe things weren’t so bleak in your past. But if you’re hurting yourself now for making mistakes, it means you had no right to make them before. And that’s an attitude you’ve taken with you into the present.
Evaluations and Comparisons
A person who has experienced guilt or shame over a mistake tries to prevent the event from happening again in the future through sternness and threats. Stimulates himself to be more attentive and competent.
What’s the Problem Here
It might seem that being strict and not letting yourself get away with it somehow promotes professionalism and personality development in general. Adults who raise a child through positive and negative reinforcement would say so.
It makes no practical sense to berate children for things they don’t do well, such as riding a bike from their first attempts. Often adults just don’t have enough patience. With the shouting of parents, a child is more likely to hate pedaling than to become a Tour de France winner.
It happens, though. But these are rather exceptions with one serious condition. A well-known example is the life of Michael Jackson, whose father was incredibly strict. Yes, he made his son a pop star, but did he raise a happy man?
There is another contradiction in the strict attitude toward mistakes. Think back to the example of the presentation. There, one really wanted to have the qualities of a professional speaker at the start to avoid public embarrassment. But that’s not how it works. The skill is achieved by training. It’s difficult to develop it when you don’t even have the right to try.
How to Accept Mistakes Adequately
If you are tired of being afraid of making mistakes and scolding yourself for every miscalculation, consider the following recommendations.
Stop being your own enemy and become a helper. Instead of scolding yourself for a mistake, it is better to provide support and help you learn from the experience. And don’t rush right into rationalization. First, cover yourself with a blanket, pour warm tea, and praise yourself for not being afraid to try.
Once you’re back in a resourceful state, look for where to direct your attention next time, what to practice, and who to ask for help if you need it. Then it will be easier to allow yourself to try more.
Treat the error as a scientist would after an experiment. In research, a negative result is just as meaningful as a positive one. The experience must be dealt with wisely, rather than scolding yourself for the experience.
Metaphorically speaking, a mistake can be thought of as a road sign that warns of bumps or road repairs.
Think of a mistake as the difference between the expected result and the actual result. Reality doesn’t care if you feel guilty or not. Synchronizing it with expectations is not helped by self-injury, but by lessons learned and preparation.
Do an exercise: Write out a situation where a mistake or slip-up was made and break it down into two lists:
- What Failed. In this column, mark what specifically failed within your area of responsibility. Without being fanatical. Most importantly, spell out hypotheses for how you can influence the situation next time.
- What worked, what succeeded. It’s important to notice this part of your work, to maintain objectivity. Something will definitely be found.
Accept that some skills take a lot of time. And there can be plenty of mistakes along the way, sometimes the same ones. When you were learning to walk, there were many attempts. Now imagine that after falling down once, you would say, “That’s it, I’m a worthless walker, I can’t and won’t walk.”