• Belinda Wells

15 Ways Making Mistakes Can be Positive.

I guess we all make mistakes from time to time, though I would also suspect that most of us don’t like to! I know I don’t! Feeling that you’ve made a mistake, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, can make us feel guilty, angry, embarrassed, or ashamed.

But the thing to remember about mistakes is that everyone makes them.

As a therapist and coach working with children, I often use an exercise with them so they can see that making mistakes is a normal part of learning. I use 2 jars, one labelled MISTAKES and one labelled LEARNING and a handful of marbles, which start off in the MISTAKES jar. We then take it in turn to take a marble out and talk about a mistake we have made. Then we decide if there is anything we have learned from the experience. There invariably is and so the marble goes into the learning jar - not back into the mistake jar.

I wish someone had explained that to me as a child.

Remember that making a mistake has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Making mistakes might cause us to doubt our own worth or value. However, no one is perfect, and that is totally OK. But don't make excuses or try to hide the fact that you've made a mistake. Simply admit it. Deal with it and put a stop to it.

I understand how tempting it is to try to hide your mistakes or make excuses for them. We've all done it. But, most of the time it's just digging a hole for yourself. Making excuses for yourself will most likely postpone the process of accepting responsibility, forgiving yourself, and moving on. If you're not sure what went wrong, talk to someone else about it to get their perspective.

Most problems can be solved, and if you've made a mistake, sit down and consider what you could do to rectify the situation. You may discover that you can smooth certain things out and that it isn't as horrible as you first imagined.

When you make a major mistake, talk it over with someone; don't feel like you have to deal with it alone. Talk to your friends or relatives about it; they could say something that clarifies things for you and makes you feel better.

If you've done these things and are still having difficulties admitting your mistakes and moving on, there could be something more serious going on. Begin by talking to a trusted friend or seeking professional support from a therapist or coach.

Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has to deal with the consequences them. It's how you bounce back that defines you. By following the things I've advised, you can begin to perceive failures as opportunities for learning and improvement,

because mistakes can;

  1. Point out something we didn’t know.

  2. Help us spot something we may have missed.

  3. Add to our understanding or information.

  4. Allows to try things we may not have considered

  5. Makes us aware of our limitations

  6. Let us see when circumstances change

  7. Help us to see what works and what doesn’t.

  8. Guide us towards different or better choices.

  9. Bring fresh ideas and insight.

  10. Point us in a different direction

  11. Show where our passion and interests lie and where they do not.

  12. Identify our true feelings.

  13. Show us when we are not listening.

  14. Slow us down when we may be going too fast.

  15. Make us more humble.

There are no mistakes, just opportunities to learn.

So next time you think you’ve made a mistake, stop before you put your marble into the MISTAKES jar and think what you could learn from it. Then put it in the LEARNING jar.

Belinda Wells

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