Many years ago I overhead a snippet of a conversation between a grandmother and her college-age granddaughter. This diminutive woman offered her words of wisdom which loosely paraphrased are as follows: “You know, Haley, none of us are perfect. The only ones who are perfect happen to be in heaven and in case you haven’t noticed they’re all dead!”
This elderly woman implied that any attempt to be perfect is a setup for disappointment and failure, since an inherent part of being human is to be imperfect and to make mistakes. Unfortunately, the silver lining of this reality is often overlooked. Have you ever considered the wealth of opportunities for growth by examining the process of your repetitions? Have you noticed that they are steeped in mistakes and skewed perceptions?
While our mistakes generally get most of the attention, it is what we learn from them that is invaluable and can profoundly affect our lives. Many of us avoid failure with the same hyper-alertness that we would have when avoiding an electric shock. However, rather than being an obstacle to personal growth, mistakes can be a vehicle for learning.
Think about when have you disagreed with your spouse or partner and said something that was heard as insensitive and hurtful. What patterns of frustration or disappointment have you experienced when looking for that special someone? When have you said something that resulted in the abrupt ending of a relationship? How often have you been stymied and unable to determine where it all came from and how to avoid its reoccurrence?
Embracing mistake-making gives you the opportunity to take risks and can lead to your personal growth. Have you ever considered the inherent potential of emotional relearning through an examination of your manner of processing life and your patterns of mistakes? Have you considered the real-life possibilities that are there? Both interpersonal, as well as professional growth, are natural byproducts of making mistakes.
When was the last time you thought you were giving your teenager some feedback only to learn he felt negated or misunderstood? When have you admonished your children about their mistakes and failures; reminded them that had they studied harder, spent less time on screens or retired earlier they might have been more effective? You probably are aware that these are not the most productive ways to help them own their decisions and grow.
It is known that students who test well often have more academic and professional options opened to them. However, it is easy to lose sight of the value in making mistakes, of exploring the contributing factors, and of giving expression to creative problem-solving both academically, as well as interpersonally.
If you are willing to relearn how you process life both internally, as well as externally, you can also learn how to take risks that in the past were improbable, to step out of your comfort zone and to improve the quality of your life, your family dynamics and the people you are drawn to. You do not have to be enslaved by your repetition and denied the growth that can come from emotional relearning!