Growth 4 min read

3 Reasons It's OK To Make Mistakes

It’s time you forgive yourself.

(Photo: WOCinTech, Flickr)

Making mistakes is an integral part of our humanity.  Our mistakes sculpt our internal terrain, as flowing water smooths over rocks in a river.  Our most painful blunders clear out old energy and force us on a different path.

Indeed, most of our mistakes occur when we are in conflict between who we are and what we do, between what we feel and what we say. The good news is you don’t have to hide from your mistakes.  It’s time to take your mess and turn it into a message.

The next time you slip up, recall these three reasons why it’s OK to make mistakes.

1. Your values will become crystal clear.  

Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  Our mistakes refine us if we choose to face their lessons head-on.  In the midst of a mistake, if we listen, our inner voice will deliver warning signs that the situation is wrong.  You hate contributing to gossip, for example, yet did it anyway.  You knew you shouldn’t have had that extra drink, but numbing the pain felt better at the time.  You realize that you value honesty, you value self-discipline--your mistakes were there to lead you to the beliefs you hold most sacred.  It’s time to listen and live in greater alignment.

2. Mistakes will cultivate you and lead to great things.

At every stage of life mistakes are a normal part of our development; they help us grow into ourselves.  Successful business executives have been found to embrace their mistakes in order to cultivate their skills.  They grow stronger and more complex sets of skills through trial and error.

An electrician turned famous inventor, John Hopps, for example, set out to use radio frequency to warm the body and help patients experiencing hypothermia. He made several mistakes during his experiments but realized that the machine he created could be used as a pacemaker to restart a person’s heart. His initial mistake has saved millions of lives.  Mistakes will grow our hearts, our base of knowledge and have the power to change us, and our world, for the better.

3. You realize your humanity and connection to others.

Some mistakes are universal. Here are some of the most common: not going after your dreams, saying things you really don’t mean, ignoring your health, hurting someone who loves you, or not being true to yourself.  Do any of these sound familiar?  

To err is human, but we must recognize our mistakes, own the consequences and forgive ourselves.  People are too often paralyzed by their guilt over their mistakes.  We think no one could understand the depth of our shame.  We think we are alone in the suffering we caused ourselves.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Tell yourself today--you are human, you will learn from this and you deserve authentic connection to others.  

Let’s consider one of the greatest architectural marvels of Europe--the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy, visited by over a million people every year.  It took over one hundred and seventy-seven years to build and started leaning only ten years after its construction.  

It was considered a mistake; an error that would never work as intended.  But, the error has made something unique to the world.

So too will your errors aid in your growth and refinement.  Some of them might break you, but you can choose to use the mistake to shape you into a beautiful part of this world.

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