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Making Big Mistakes


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Mistakes are my Achilles Heel. My perception is that they are life altering and cause great disruption and distress for me. It took a while for me to realize that my sense of self was being defined by them or rather this need to not make them. I have spent my whole life watching my every move trying to not mess up and it had been quite stressful and exhausting. But when I inevitably make one, because you quite frankly can't avoid them no matter how hard you try and try and try, it can cause me to turn on myself quite fiercely to the point at times I just want to tear myself to bits. Though I am happy to say I am learning how to cope a bit better now. I first off finally saw that this stemmed from how I was raised. My father was extremely critical to the point even my wins were met with a judgment. So not only did I develop a sense that I could not do much right, I have virtually no self confidence because even my wins were judged. From that perspective how is a person ever to feel good about themselves. Essentially what happened is that my whole existence became invalidated and as a consequence I had little value for myself, developed a lot of self blame and a belief that I would never amount to anything even to the point of believing I didn't deserve to exist. So yes, I completely understand where you are coming from and it is a very very hard habit to break but the first step I am trying and it does seem to be helping is when I make a mistake and feel the upset taking over I make a very determined effort to at least not call myself any names. I let myself be upset but refuse to blame myself and put myself down and repeat as much as needed that it was just a mistake. I actually just had to do that today and it really did help keep me from spiraling into self loathing. But we get triggered a lot because life isn't perfect so it will take some time to overcome the tendency but from what I understand it can be turned around. So just try to take a look at your life and see if there is anyone in it that invalidates you. Refuse to accept the behavior in others and in yourself.

I actually made peace with my father years ago. I came to realize that he raised me how he was raised and in his eyes he really thought he had my best interests at heart. He was trying to look out for me but when I tried to talk to him about it he really could not comprehend what I was saying and at that point I realized he really was too deep in his own critical mind that he wasn't trying to be mean he just undermined my self worth without really realizing it. But just because I made peace with him didn't heal the damage that was done to my mental health. And this is something I have to repair which I am doing a little bit at a time. I think you can too if you just take some time to be mindful of your internal dialogue, especially when you make a mistake and simply refuse to call yourself names cause we really are being grossly unfair to ourselves and we deserve better. Well anyways, you found a great place to talk this out. I just found this place myself and wish I had found it sooner. I spent a good 2-3 years trying to annihilate myself and could have used this place much sooner. The people here are very supportive and helpful. Hang in there and please don't beat yourself up anymore. It is time for us to stop.

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For me it depends on a lot of things.

For one thing, I realize that I used to "beat myself up" in the name of something, usually an ideal. So I look at the "ideal" and decide whether it is "realistic" or "unrealistic." Any ideal that EXPECTS me to be an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and all-perfect being is unrealistic. I am finite and limited. I have a 3 pound brain not an Infinite Mind. If an ideal is unrealistic, I will beat up the ideal rather than beat up my poor little brain.

Here are some unrealistic ideals I have "beaten up" over the years:

being the perfect son to my parents

being the perfect brave and strong person

being the perfect clever and wise person

being the perfect good and saintly person

being the perfect worker and success

being the perfect popular and attractive person

And so on. My brain weighs about 3 pounds. It makes mistakes, big and small. At the same time, it works 24/7 to keep me alive and healthy. Although I hope my brain learns from mistakes, I don't think it ever "deserves" to be beat up. Given all it does for me 24 hours a day, I think it deserves praise, encouragement, comfort and consolation when it is feeling down.

That is how I try to handle "mistakes." Someone once told Thomas Edison that he had failed 10,000 times in trying to make a light bulb. Edison answered: I have not failed 10,000 times. I have just found 10,000 things that don't work." We learn by mistakes.

Edited by Epictetus
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