Forget the mistake; learn from the lesson
Mistakes are inevitable. They are a part of day to day life. From forgetting your keys, to making an administrative error at work. But if we take our minds back to our last mistake, how did you communicate with yourself? Did you call yourself stupid? A waste of space? What kind of tone did you use? More often than not we use the space following a mistake to verbally abuse and berate ourselves, saying things to ourselves, that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemy. Be careful what you say to yourself because you are listening.
When I note a repeated behaviour with a client, I often ask them "what purpose does it serve?" Is it a harmful or helpful behaviour? The truth of the matter is that verbally bashing yourself has no purpose, and it is a harmful behaviour. It leaves you feeling miserable and emotionally drained, and subliminally, it will make you anxious, resulting in possible difficulties in concentration and memory, which will increase the likelihood of the mistake happening again.
So, how can we change this harmful behaviour, into a helpful one?
Next time you make a mistake, take a step back and ask yourself; "what would I say to my closest loved one if this happened to them?". Secondly, ask yourself "what you have learned from this mistake?", and thirdly, troubleshoot how you could possibly prevent this from happening in the future i.e leave your keys by the door, or put a note on your desk to jot your memory in that particular admin task. This, in turn, flips a harmful behaviour (verbally bashing yourself for a mistake) or a helpful one (learning from the mistake). Because at the end of the day, if we never made a mistake, we wouldn’t learn anything.
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About Jessica Reynolds
Jessica Leigh is a qualified CBT psychotherapist. She is a member of the BABCP and BACP. She currently works in a private practice, specialises in solution focused anxiety and depression counselling.