I made a mistake a couple of weekends ago. Actually I made several mistakes, but this one involved someone who has been rather toxic in my life. The demeaning response and consequent attempt to take advantage of the situation lifted the floodgate of emotions related to a situation I’ve been working to overcome.
Mistakes are a funny thing. No one wants to make them, but they are often the gateway to experience, learning and growth. How many times have we been told about the number of failures Edison had before he invented the light bulb? Or how many shots Michael Jordan missed? The learning is in the journey and the journey is filled with bumps, pit stops and distractions.
I remember a discussion in Sunday School a couple of years ago about mistakes, where the instructor said mistakes aren’t bad. I don’t think I can describe the shock that reverberated through my body as I thought of the consequences I faced for past mistakes. That was the first time I realized that maybe my perception of mistakes were off kilter. Actually, that was at the beginning of my discovery that maybe many of my perceptions were off kilter, but that’s another blog post.
I let the reactions to my alleged mistakes by someone close to me feed my insecurity in my decision making ability. I was often paralyzed and unable to decide anything for fear of making a mistake. I walked on eggshells, fearing I would unwittingly make a mistake in this person’s eyes – which happened frequently. I don’t want to focus on my relationship, but a little about how others react to our mistakes. For me, I developed a fear of not only failure but also a fear of making decisions.
Mistakes show we are trying. If we’re not making mistakes, are we really living? When I struggle with a decision, I remind myself that if I choose the wrong option then I’ll pick myself up and move on. Often, a choice is just a choice with no right or wrong answer. Like the time I made cookies with candy corn instead of chocolate chips. They tasted fine, but they were messy and ugly. Lesson learned.
Other times mistakes can lead to pain, and that’s OK too. Life is meant to have good days and bad days. It’s very hard to appreciate the good, without the not so good. For me a painful day is still better than those days I was numb, blocking out how unhappy I had become with my stagnate life.
It’s so good to feel again, regardless of the emotion; although I do prefer the positive emotions. This year I’m focusing on rediscovering what makes me happy. I’m bound to stumble on some unsuccessful attempts. And I’m sad to say I’ll make a few more mistakes and some of them might sting a bit. Hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll be more in tune to what makes me tick with no visible scars from the mistake or two (or 90) I make along the way.