The Magnificence of Mistakes

I’m evolving… Having been the proponent of the Peachey Letters Blog for four years now, I find that my writerly maunderings often form a pattern of starting with a confessional release about an issue that I am finding difficult or painful.  It’s as if I’m a client on my very own coaching ‘couch’ unburdening the psycho-emotional load.  Then having laid it bare, I proceed to coach myself through the lessons to be learnt and also to resolution.  The process takes me through from earth bound protagonist in my own stories of life, through to the ‘all seeing eye’ that I then become – being the narrator and navigator – steering me on a path of enlightenment.  It is a process which is both vulnerable and victorious, and so to go with the flow I’ve come up with a new nom de plume that reflects the journey.  These new blogs will be under the aegis of ‘The Transient Goddess’ – a creature both earthbound and divine – switching between psyches and working my way through the lessons of life…

mistake

The Magnificence of Mistakes

Ah the games that the ego plays…  Mine was recently playing a stealthy game of hide and seek.  First it was craving attention and so wanting positive validation; then suddenly it wanted to hide, and in doing so to turn me into a her hermit – a mad witchy creature sitting alone in my dark she cave, abstractedly knitting up quiet comfort in order to warm me from the draughty distractions of the outside world.

And sometimes the very best thing for us is to roll a big boulder across the mouth of the cave so we can help and heal ourselves and our souls, but then again, we all have to live and move through the big bad outside world much of the time too.

Recently though I realised that I had felt like hiding, because I seemed to be making so many mistakes, errors and wrong decisions.  It felt as if, that in nearly every hour of every day I got something wrong.  I broke something.  I forgot something.  I misunderstood something.

I would be innocently tripping along through life, breathing and doing and getting on with things, when suddenly I was pulled up sharp – winded by the internal or external realisation that I had fucked up – yet again.

I hate fucking up! Internally I am an innate perfectionist who loves nothing better than to get things right.  But this trait somehow makes me a fraud, because externally I so often get the feedback that I am laconic, laissez-faire and laid back… Oh – if only!  It really could be a classic case of the elegant swan apparently gliding gently across the water – who is actually being propelled by frantic pedalling below the surface and against the current.

Well, I’ve decided to stop silently pedalling and to out myself, rather than waddle wetly back to my cave to smooth down my ruffled feathers.

You see the muck ups, messes and muddles got so bad that I resorted to joking that the only illogically logical explanation was that there was an invisible gremlin riding my back – causing mayhem in my world and having fun at my emotional expense.

As a latent perfectionist I really hate admitting this, but there it is – I’ve had a big loss of confidence lately because it just feels like I can’t do anything right anymore…

This is all an ego-centric exaggeration of course – the simple fact is that if I were to document and analyse all my transactions, thoughts and tryings, then in reality the well-executed and ordinary ones would vastly out-number the inane, inept and incorrect ones…

But somehow, at this stage in my life, it’s as if my consciousness is constantly drawn to all the mishaps and misunderstandings, and they have all gathered together into a nasty, sticky mass, containing a dark mixture of anxious and frustrated self-loathing.

Like many people I have a tendency towards self-castigation, so it is bad enough if someone else points out an error or a flaw, but then times that to the power of ten when it comes to the flagellating misery that my own inner critic will inflict upon me if I let it.

And therein lies a large part of the answer – ‘if I let it’.  And I let it when the horror of error just washes over me and I go through the cringing motions of internal complaint without even noticing what I am doing.  It just happens, especially when I’m tired or poorly and I forget that supposedly I actually have a choice over how I respond to what is going on / not going my way.

I am also mildly obsessed with the notion that with advancing years comes advancing anxiety.  I recall now how people older than me had been known to say that with age they had lost a level of confidence, and hence liked to stay within the confines of the safe and familiar.  Damn it! When as a callow youth I thought of middle age, I assumed that the up side would be that when it happened I would have it (life) all sorted – emotionally and materially, not be creeping backwards into my dank cave.

So, I’ve admitted my erstwhile lack of self-assurance – now what to do about it?

The first thing is to notice that if this happens to me again then it is just a pattern of thought and reaction.  This simple act of self-awareness is very powerful – it allows me to step back and take stock.

The next tactic is to celebrate the fuck ups, messes, errors and mistakes.  Celebrate?  What?! Now if your boss (or how ever has that role in your life) has just pointed out a fault, I’m not suggesting that you do a jig in front of his or her nose, but what I am saying is this – acknowledge to yourself what has happened.  But instead of criticising it, celebrate it – bring positive attention to it, punch the air and say ‘yes’ – I messed up – ‘hurrah’!

Why do this? Well because in doing so I am removing the negative power from it.  I know that when I do it often enough, I get out of the habit of criticism, and not least then if I take the sting out of it, then I can step back from it and see the situation for what it really is.  And, when I step outside of it, then it is far less likely to be an actual, bona fide, fully blown fuck up.

Having stepped back, now you can decide that whatever happened, you can learn from it and decide what, if anything, you want to do differently or better next time.  Then you have another cause for celebration – new lesson learnt!

So I give myself a choice here – how would I prefer to feel, given the choice – criticised or celebrated?  I choose celebrated, of course.

One of my mentors – a certain Mr Richard Wilkins, often asks this question: ‘What do you remember for the longest time – a compliment or a criticism?’  Everyone I know, myself included, always truthfully answers ‘a criticism’.  We are programmed instinctively to spot errors and remind ourselves about what has happened as a protective mechanism to prevent ourselves from doing it again.  But this stone-age tendency also has the effect of knocking us off balance whilst we take time to castigate ourselves and others.  It saps our positive energy and focusses us on the negative.

These negative thought patterns are natural, so you have start brain training to counteract them.  My favourite method for doing this is also a gorgeously simple one: I give thanks.

The constant attitude of gratitude and willingness to celebrate every small victory in life and every lesson learned is one of the most effective ways to gain a more positive pattern of thinking.

I advise every single one of my coaching clients to get a journal and chronicle their gratitudes and gone wells every day.  Personally I love to do this first thing in the morning and last thing at bed time and at the very least, before I go to sleep each night, I run through my day in my head and celebrate all the things I have learnt (and that includes the perceived mishaps), all the things that have gone well (no matter how trivial) along with the myriad of things that I have to be grateful for.  And when I focus on my gratitudes and count my blessings, actually there are a lot.

And when I focus on all my happenings (otherwise known as fuck ups, muck ups and messes) along with all the victories, and then decide that they are all blessings of one sort or another, then there really can’t be any mistakes, any more…

So finally let me raise a champagne glass for me and for you: Here is to a life of realisation and of celebration – cheers!

Sandra
Transient Goddess, Coach and Author

Contact me by clicking here…

I’m also variously known as:

* Director of LifeWork Consultancy & Coaching
* Author of Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life and Co-Author of The F-Factor and you can buy them both at Amazon and all good book sites by clicking on the hyperlinks
* Winner of a Women Inspiring Women Award 2013
* Shortlisted for Women’s Coach in the APCTC Awards 2014, nominated in 2012 & 2013
* Nominated for a Networking Mummies National Recognition Award 2015
* International Book Awards Finalist 2015, Women’s Issues Category