We all make mistakes. If we didn’t, if we were perfect, we’d be pretty boring to be around –
and frustrating and irritating to those around us. Yes, we do want to be the best we can be, that’s a given. However, unreasonable expectations and self-blame can really make our lives miserable. For example, how often do you hear yourself say something such as, “I left the car lights on – how could I be so stupid?” Or how about, “I really put my foot in it at the staff meeting – I guess I will never learn.”
Do these examples sound familiar? Self-blaming statements like these are commonplace for far too many of us. Now, there is nothing the matter with the first part of these statements – they are just simple facts. However, it is the second part – that judgmental blast – that keeps us feeling miserable.
What if we get rid of the judgments and substitute something more positive? For instance: “I left the car lights on – what an inconvenience! Next time, I will be more careful” and then see yourself turning off the light switch. Or “I sure did put my foot in it this time! That is not like me at all. Next time, I will do it differently,” and then tell yourself how you will act the next time the same, or similar, situation arises.
Do you see the difference? While you are acknowledging that your behavior could use some improvement, you are also recognizing your basic competence and stating your intention to do better in the future. It’s that future picture that helps move the change along the road to becoming permanent.
Instead of judging yourself harshly, why not just allow yourself to make mistakes now and then without making a big deal about it. Then, give yourself a positive goal to shoot for. You will find that you’ll have fewer metaphysical bruises, and your self-esteem will really grow as a result.