0

To err is human; accept it

Features Column

To learn from a mistake effectively transforms it from mistake to life lesson.

I sometimes reflect on how much energy I used to put into lamenting over mistakes I made in my life. These thoughts serve as healthy reminders when I am tempted by the old familiar pattern of beating myself up by replaying the mistake over and over and being overly critical of the fact that I let it happen.

What I had to become aware of was that all of that wallowing only kept me stuck in that place. I realized that rather than using that energy to move myself forward, I was wasting it and remaining distressed and disgruntled and-stuck. Greater than that, I realized that the distress and feelings of discontentment with myself that I experienced were all a result of the way I looked at my mistakes and what I said about them.

That is when it occurred to me that to learn from a mistake effectively transforms it from mistake into life lesson.

I changed how I looked at my mistakes, which changed what I said about them, which altered their structure and redefined them. What this means to me is that in every instance that I learned something from the mistakes I made, they had become something different, something useful, something necessary. A life lesson.

Seeing my mistakes as life lessons helped to facilitate movement in my life. It was impossible for me to stay stuck when I had learned something that I needed for my continued growth. Likewise, it was impossible for me to experience growth while battling with myself over my mistakes. There was no freedom in that because I would stay effectively chained to the very thing that was causing me distress.

I learned that we often get into battles trying to change what we can’t change. These kinds of efforts can lead to a life of no peace shaped by excessive worry, stress, anxiety, and depression. What we can change is our perception, which impacts perspective. I believe there is freedom in doing so.

To battle is to resist and push back or try to make different, which keeps us stuck in that back and forth pattern. To accept is to allow for situations and circumstances to be as they are and to make use of what we can learn from them. This gives those parts of our experience the room to become something different on their own while freeing us up to grow and experience movement in our lives.

As long as you are human, you will make mistakes. That is a fact, and when you do, ask the question, “Did I learn anything?”

If the answer is yes, then get active around that and use it. You don’t have to stay stuck. It is a choice.

Be encouraged.

Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at ln_dunn@yahoo.com.