Mantra 3: I will accept my mistakes and learn from them.
This mantra is one of my more personal ones and one that I am always consciously trying to improve upon. It has been, and is, one of the biggest obstacles in my journey through depression and comes from a lack of self-confidence. But even before this all happened, I’ve always had too high expectations of myself — striving to do well and being disappoint or upset when I’ve not achieved exactly what I wanted to. Particularly so when the fault has been of my doing or I believe I absolutely should have hit the mark.
I was impatient as a child to further my skills and knowledge and got frustrated if I wasn’t achieving as quickly as I thought I should be. School grades, learning to ride a bike, planning activities and even things like computer games and creative things. As I got older and the pressure of more significant exams and forging a career became more prevalent, this only became more acute. Then depression came along and ever since the same manageable feelings blew up 10-fold. Things that even put out my planned routine out of whack was enough to set me into a panic attack. If things I tried to create didn’t work out, I would get angry and cry. In my jobs, if I’d made a human error (however easy to remedy), it was immediately the worst possible mistake and I would berate myself for being so incompetent and useless. Not only as an employee but also a human being.
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” — William Shakespeare
Now, I know all of that sounds overly dramatic and I sound like a diva, but most of this was internal. Only in the last two or three years, it has been known to overspill into my exterior personality and effect others. This is because I have been learning to express and acknowledge my emotions and as a result, my mind can no longer contain the things that used to stay well out of the notice of anyone else.
This is not a bad thing; it’s good progress in the journey I have been on! But it does have negative effects on the way I project to others, my outer mood and the way I can behave.
It’s hard to explain as this is mostly an automated response within me, one which often happens before I realise what’s going on. One which I’m working hard to overcome because it really isn’t healthy.
So there are two parts to this: I will accept my mistakes and learn from them. Acceptance and learning.
The second part I’m pretty good with and I think I have that down for the most part. The acceptance of the mistake, on the other hand, not so much! I guess what I’m really trying to do is learn to accept the mistakes I make.
“Be humble to see your mistakes, courageous to admit them, and wise enough to correct them.” — Amine Ayad
In this context, acceptance means to acknowledge a mistake (or bad decision) has been made by myself, to try to understand why it happened and what led to it being made, to rationalise what happened in relation to how I feel and to not berate or beat myself up as much as I do currently.
The learning part comes afterwards; what can I do better next time? What changes do I need to make? What lesson has it taught me? Was my reaction justified or irrational, and why? What would I say to another person who had made the very same mistake?
It’s a lot of things to consider when this is all going through my mind at 100mph, but all a necessary part of this process.
I’m glad to report that in the last year I have been making a lot of progress with the acknowledgement of how my emotions and reactions surrounding mistakes occur. I am more balanced and calm, thanks to my counsellor. Together we have explored the nature of emotions, how they feel, their manifestations and whether they are justifiable or if they are coming from somewhere else. I am better equipped to feel my emotions, rather than try and ignore them or let them blow up. Therefore I have more understanding over them. I can equate feelings to things and find patterns that before I was blind to.
All of these things have helped immensely when presented with challenging situations and facing mistakes I may have made without flying on the handle internally and going into meltdown. Deep breathing, journal writing and solitude are the big things that have helped alongside counselling. They make me stop, vent and look objectively at the situation, deconstruct what happened and make a plan to either fix the problem or prevent it from happening in future. Sometimes I just need space to cool off without the risk of my outward agitation affecting anyone else. This isn’t to say I’m above asking for help; depending on the situation, I also find it helps to talk it through with family or friends.
There are still times where my balance is on the fritz and I still over-react or internally beat myself up about things. It’s really a work in progress and I have many of the tools I need to heal fully.
I’m Only Human
The main thing I am conscious of is beating myself up and not giving myself a break. Where I would speak with kindness and patience with other, I speak with hostility and blame to myself. The failure represents a failure of (my)self.
This needs to stop.
Failure and making mistakes is part of being human, it is how we learn. Both are also inevitable in life — no one and nothing is perfect. Life is trial and error and to think otherwise is unrealistic. Also, we are not our mistakes. Decisions and actions are made all the time and no matter how good the intention behind them, sometimes they backfire and go horribly wrong. This doesn’t mean that we are wrong, a mistake or a failure.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you’ve failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling.
I need to remember to contemplate all of this before I lay into myself about my failings, mistakes and bad decisions. From now on, I’m going to try and view these things as if I am friend watching another doing the same and reflect upon how I would talk to them. By doing this, hopefully, I can find more compassion for myself and be less inwardly hostile. This also means I need to work on learning to love and respect myself more and gain more self-confidence. I also need to explore why I regard such negativity as a reflection of my being. All of these things are connected.
In time I will overcome this toxic way of thinking and become fully aware and accepting. It will take time and I need to go forth with patience. I’m on the right path though and I am positive that this blog post is proof of the start of such a journey.
I am only human, not an infallible machine — I will accept and learn from my mistakes.
Originally published at faeriecreations.wordpress.com on May 19, 2017.