Mistake: an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong: coming here was a mistake | she made the mistake of thinking they were important.• something, esp. a word, figure, or fact, that is not correct; an inaccuracy: a couple of spelling mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes and everyone knows it. From spelling and grammar errors to life changing wrong decisions, if we’ve lived any length of time, we’ve all managed to accomplish many of them. So why are we so hard on ourselves even when we believe that mistakes are inevitable? And what about how we treat others who make mistakes? Are we philosophical and forgiving or do we harbor judgments and grudges? What is at the root of our responses to error?
These and other questions are at the heart of the following journaling prompts, which are designed to help uncover deeper sources and emotions beneath our surface attitudes:
- Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, until you feel your heart begin to slow and your body relax. Then allow your mind to roam back in time to the earliest memory you have of making a mistake that had negative consequences. What happened? What was the mistake? Who else, if anyone, was involved, and who experienced the most impact from the mistake? How did this experience affect you emotionally, particular regarding your feelings and attitude toward future mistakes?
- How do you tend to respond when someone expresses anger or disappointment over a mistake that you have made? Do you become defensive, or do you feel angry and disappointed with yourself? How does your response affect your self-image?
- What’s your immediate response to the following quote by Dr. David M. Burns: “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” What does it mean to have the “right to be wrong?” How would (or does) hanging onto that right affect your life?
- What is the biggest mistake you ever made? How did it change your life and what did you learn from the mistake? If you had a chance to do it over again, would you allow yourself to make the same mistake? If not, what turn do you imagine your life would have taken?
Just for conversation about this topic: Do you respond differently to others’ mistakes (big and little) than to your own? Yes or no, why do you think that is? Please share your answer in the comment box below.