By Barbara Schwarck, PCC, MPIA

How many of you like to make mistakes? No one? Oh, why not? Perhaps it has to do with the belief that mistakes are bad, wrong and usually full of negative consequences. Well, let me tell you a little story.

I recently had the opportunity to make a very big mistake. And, without going in to detail, I can assure you it hurt. I hurt myself, people involved and even people not involved. It also had negative consequences. I was still in the midst of recovery from the consequences of my mistake when I realized I had a lot of choices. Would I wait to admit my faults or admit them right away? Was I going to use this incident to understand myself better and learn a new behavior or was I going to repeat the same pattern over and over? Was I going to beat myself up or was I going to lovingly hold myself accountable? Was I going to eat myself into numbness or was I going to stay conscious with my feelings of discomfort? Well, it seemed easy to say yes to the latter part of all these choices. However, saying it is almost always easier than doing it.

I decided I would lovingly hold myself accountable. This mistake uncovered a pattern I was unwilling to look at before. It was one of those gray areas I rationalized away. But, this time, I lovingly took my somewhat scared self by the hand and started the clean-up.

Mistakes are a wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. Because of the many negative experiences we have with mistakes – especially when we are children – we do not value mistakes. Some of you may actually hate to make mistakes. As adults we try to avoid them. We try to pretend there is perfection in the world. We try to shape our environment exactly the way we want it. We are afraid to change our environment because it will change our patterns, circumstances and relationships. Change is frightening. We tell ourselves we may not be able to handle change and we may find things are more comfortable left covered.

I encourage you to foster a new attitude toward mistakes. Allow yourself to learn from your mistakes. Play with mistakes. Make little mistakes and see how you feel when you make them. Perfection is only in our imagination. The world is constantly changing and so are you. Let go of old ways and allow the light to shine into the parts of yourself about which you feel less proud. It is only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that we will heal.

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