We all logically know that everyone makes mistakes in life, regardless of race, class, gender, age and other differentiators. But there is a lot of negative energy around mistakes. So much that most of us do everything in our power to steer clear of them, ignore or hide them.

The truth is, though, we are conditioned from a young age that mistakes are bad and we shouldn’t make them; otherwise, we risk getting punished. Think back to a time in your life as a child or a teen where you made a mistake and got a “disciplinary beating” as a result or consequence. You forget to do your homework? You get punished! You forget to take out the meat from the freezer? You get punished! You lose the money you were sent on an errand with or for transport? You get punished!

It is then not a wonder why we resort to avoiding or hiding mistakes. We grow up learning that we will get some kind of punishment if we make and reveal them.

The shame we carry about making mistakes can be tough on us even as adults. About two or so years ago, I sent out an article that had a couple of typos to my editor. I only picked up the typos a day later. The shame and humiliation I felt were difficult to deal with. I thought to myself, I proofread that copy a couple of times, so how did I miss such a mistake? Was that a sign that I was a bad writer?

You know, questions like that. But it’s not only in professional settings that I am bothered by mistakes, in social settings too. I remember a time where I met a friend of a friend, and we got to talking, sharing stories about our lives and such. I said something in particular that I instantly regretted saying. When I got home, I couldn’t stop dwelling on making the mistake of oversharing. I thought to myself, I am really bad at social settings.

There are many mistakes that people end up beating themselves over. Students choosing the wrong subjects or career, adults taking the wrong job, buying an expensive car that one can’t afford, getting married or divorcing, confiding in the wrong person, asking for help from the wrong person or not asking for help at all. There are many examples to draw from.

And, if you haven’t noticed a pattern here, I’ll point it out; we often connect making a mistake to a character flaw. “I make mistakes; therefore, I am a bad person.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Making a mistake is as natural as breathing. We are humans, so we will inevitably make mistakes. An article I read used a line that stuck with me: “being afraid of making mistakes doesn’t make you more or less likely to make good decisions.” Because at the end of the day, a mistake is a decision that you make, and you never know whether it’s a good or a bad one until you make it.

That is precisely why mistakes are often called lessons. Without mistakes, we don’t have opportunities to gain valuable knowledge that will help us grow in our journey of life. So, instead of trying so much not to make mistakes or hide them, we should normalise making them.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. But if you do, make new ones. Life is too short to make the wrong choice twice.” ― Joyce Rachelle.

As Joyce says in the quote above, you should try not to make the same mistake twice. Because if you do, you’re consciously making a bad choice that will be a fault of your own. It’s typically known as a careless mistake. It’s unlike an honest mistake, which you can make unintentionally or unknowingly and without the intention of causing harm.

In short, that means it’s your behaviour after making the mistake that matters more. So, how do you handle mistakes going forward? A study I read suggested that you should:

– Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.

– Have an experimental mindset.

“The personality that we have today was formed because we made mistakes, analysed them, and learned from them. Choosing to view a mistake as a new experience seems definitely more attractive and rewarding than running away from oneself in a vicious circle of self-criticism with slipping notes of self-pity.”

So, honour your growth by normalising making mistakes and learning from them.


Whether you are employed or unemployed, this doesn’t define you. Read more about his here

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