Making Mistakes

Mistakes, errors, poor judgement, we’ve all made them, lots of them. We say it’s part of being human, and although that’s true, there is a lot more going on. I’m going to divide our “screw-ups” into two general categories – those where the ego gets involved and all the rest.

The non-ego category is pretty straightforward. You apologize, straighten things out and go on about your business. The error was unintentional, so you don’t have any skin in the game. But the other person might, making the apology important.

However, when the ego is involved, things get more complicated. You didn’t just not hear him, you didn’t WANT to hear him. You were threatened and needed (psychologically at least) to push him away, to create distance between you.

He was treading on an issue that you didn’t want exposed. And so when pushed, you needed to defend yourself – at his expense. As John Ruskin said, “Pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” And just like in the non-ego category, there will be fences to mend afterwards, only now your fingerprints will be all over the thing.

But this is also where life gets interesting, because the other person has brought you a gift, an unwelcome one, but a gift, nonetheless. The other person, in their boorish and ignorant manner, has brought to the surface an issue you need to address but that you’d rather ignore. Your reaction tells us that. Otherwise there would be no issue!

We don’t learn much when things go well. It’s pleasant, but uneventful. But let the stuff hit the proverbial fan . . . And this is how The Universe conspires to open a door that you’d rather leave closed. You see, It cannot allow closed doors, and It employs other people in Its effort to help you.

It’s rather ironic, but you cannot move forward in life without making mistakes. After all, you brought these issues in to work on! And that guarantees that there will be problems relating with other people. Mistakes are regrettable but necessary, parts of your learning process at this stage of your development. That’s not to excuse dysfunctional behavior, just to explain it.

So, the issue, as Nikki Giovanni says, “. . . is not the mistake, but what you do about it.” Certainly we don’t want to hurt to others. But that seems unavoidable, especially to those closest to us. The trick is to not make dumb mistakes and to learn from the experience of others. I believe that is one of the reasons we seek community – to give us the opportunity to learn from each other’s mistakes.

Regarding your own dilemmas, the first thing you can do is to own what is yours. Irrespective of the other’s behavior, you had a reaction. That means that something old and unresolved has been triggered in you. Own it. This is also important because you don’t want to dump a whole lifetime of frustration on some unsuspecting soul who just happened to say the wrong thing.

That guilt that you feel is not a coincidence. It is a part of the process of calling your attention to what you have done. Sometimes it works, but mostly it only serves to insulate you – get you lost in the guilt, so that you can spiral down into shame and not deal with/learn from, your experience. But that also means that you’ll have to repeat the lesson in some other form.

We live in the land of regret, sometimes regretting things we’ve done “wrong” our entire lives. Think of a regret as a lesson not learned. Once you “get it”, you drop it – not the memory – but the emotional charge on it. Some people go through life making the same mistakes over and over, seemingly learning nothing from their failures and living in perpetual hell.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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