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How Can I Cope With My Mistakes?

Have you recently made a mistake? I am sure you have, as I too have made mistakes. I often work with clients about how to cope with past decisions in order to live their life in a meaningful way in the present moment. Many clients tend to ruminate over and over about something they did in the past. I often encourage them to give themselves a sense of grace and/or self-compassion to soothe that anxiety around their mistakes. I also try to normalize with them that everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes are normal and to be expected in our lives.

I recently read an article from Fast Company that touched on this very topic, “So you made a mistake. Big or small, here is a solid strategy to deal with it,” by author Katie Redderson-Lear-Zapier. Below describes Zapier’s key points on how to cope with a recent mistake.

Mistakes = Learning opportunities

We all make mistakes. I at times even encourage clients to replace the word ‘mistake’ with ‘learning opportunity because they are the same thing essentially if you choose to challenge yourself to learn from this so-called mistake. It is also very easy to fall into the slippery slope of judging yourself for this mistake. Judging ourselves certainly does not make it easier on ourselves when we make mistakes. It is also important to realize the more we learn about something (such as starting a new job), the more we realize what we don’t know. If we don’t know something, there is a good chance we make a mistake, which is both normal and to be expected!

Everyone makes mistakes

If you are very hard on yourself, you likely have from time to time struggled with imposter syndrome, and have convinced yourself you are not good enough at your job, and that none of your coworkers have ever made a mistake. Well, that is just simply not true. Everyone is new a job at some point and your coworkers have likely made a mistake when they first started too. You could attempt implementing some vulnerability and share with a trusted coworker about a mistake you made at work, and they likely will share they too have made a similar mistake in the past as well. Knowing you’re not alone in making mistakes is a key strategy of getting over the idea that making a mistake is so catastrophic.

Breath and journal about it. 

Zapier states she feels like there is an octopus on her face when she ruminates over a recent mistake. In order to rip off the octopus or other wised described as the fear, anxiety, and imposter syndrome, she journals about it. Many times, when people feel anxious or stressed related to a recent mistake their thoughts become very circular. Once we put that pen to paper, the thoughts then become linear and clearer, and you likely will start to realize this “octopus” is just a small mistake. Inhale in some positive thoughts and exhale the negative thoughts about this mistake.

Self-compassion and Grace. 

Be kinder to yourself. If you set your expectations so high that you will never make a mistake, you will 100% fail. So, you are already yourself up for failure in a way! Lessen your expectations to more manageable goals. All you can do is your personal best, and you will likely make a mistake, and then you will learn and grow from it. It is okay to make a mistake!

If you are currently struggling with anxiety, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You contact a therapist at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.

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