…said nobody, ever.
Have you ever made a choice or decision hoping things go badly?
Of course not.
Even in those all too familiar moments of, “I know I shouldn’t, but…” you probably weren’t going for a negative outcome.
The fact is, we’re all doing our very best with what we have in that moment. And yet, we beat ourselves up (over and over again) for the “mistakes” we make.
If a good-old self thrashing were a useful learning tool, I’d say go for it. No pain no gain, right?
In truth, beating yourself up is pretty darn counter-productive. It makes you feel bad without offering any real learning or motivation to do things differently the next time.
What can you do instead?
You can change your thinking-habit. Actually, you can create a completely new way of thinking about mistakes that will help you move forward, even when things have just gone terribly wrong.
7 steps to turn “mistakes” into opportunities for growth.
As a Mindful Monday reader, I’m sure you know to always begin by bringing yourself into the present moment:
- Pause, and take a few deep breaths.
- Focus on your breath for a moment. Gently direct your attention to the air as it flows in and out of your body.
- Next, allow your mind to notice and name any painful emotions that you’re be feeling. They may be significant, or they may be subtle. (anger, embarrassment, fear, blame…)
- If your mind begins to wander into any stories about those feelings, gently direct your attention back to the emotion without judging it, by silently repeating “I am feeling (name the emotions) and I am okay” a few times.
- Repeat these steps until you feel calmer and a bit more centered.
Now you’re ready to learn from what happened:
- Ask yourself the following questions.
- What specifically is the result that I am unhappy with?
- What specific actions led to that result?
- What result would I like in the future?
- Why is that result important to me? (The honest answer to this question is often not the initial, logical answer that comes to mind. Take some time to explore this question until you’re confident that you understand what you’re really after.)
- What actions might you take in the future to produce the result you’re looking for?
- Using your answers to the questions above, set an intention for what you’d like to try the next time a similar circumstance arises.
- Visualize your intention.
If, at any point, the stories about what you got wrong reemerge, bring yourself back to the present moment by repeating steps 1-5.