by Catherine Pratt
The fear of making mistakes can prevent you from trying anything
new or moving out of your comfort zone. This is such a terrible waste of
your skills and your talents and robs you from truly enjoying your
Just the word, “mistake” will strike fear in a lot of people's minds when it really shouldn’t. They’re actually good things not bad.
Walter Anderson talks about the fear of making mistakes in his book, The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment . He says, "In order to live a fulfilled life, to feel exhilarated by your accomplishments, to worry well, you must expect mistakes to occur - and you must practice what I call RIP, which stands for responsibility, insight and perspective. It also means, as you know, Rest In Peace, which in itself may not be a bad way to look at your mistakes."
So, mistakes are a good thing. You can't grow if you don't allow yourself to make mistakes. The trick is to focus on what you learned from the mistake and how to improve from it.
It's not worth wasting your time agonizing over things in the past because you can't change what happened. You just need to recognize that you simply made a mistake. That doesn't mean you're a failure because you made a mistake. You and the mistake are not the same thing at all. You learned something valuable from it and can now move forwards. It means you can focus on a solution and be far further ahead than if you'd never allowed yourself to make the mistake.
Lots of times, they’re not even mistakes. You just learned a different strategy was needed. Your actions weren't getting what you wanted so you needed to think of a different way. That's not a mistake. That's simply exploration and discovery. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Lisa Nichols, the motivational speaker, also has a great quote which says, “they’re not failures, they’re feedback”. It’s much more comforting to think of them that way. You also keep a positive mindset rather than sinking into the thoughts that you “failed” when you didn’t really. You just gained some additional knowledge.
The best part about it is that you faced your fear of making
mistakes and even though you may not have got the exact result you
wanted, at least you tried. And, you won’t have to live with that
constant nagging thought of “what if”.
What if I’d tried, what if I’d said something, what if…
People don't notice our mistakes nor judge us anywhere near as much as we think they do. And, if you gain something from it, why let the fear of what someone else "might" think stop you? You can never know what someone else is really thinking anyway. They might really be impressed at your willingness to take a chance and to try new things. You just don't know. You can only know what you're thinking. That you have complete control over.
Mistakes are usually some of our greatest learning experiences and that's the key thing to remember. It's really not so important what others think of us. It’s far more important to understand what you now know about yourself.
Sometimes, "blowing it" can make you realize what your priorities and values are and that's valuable insight you probably couldn’t have got any other way. This knowledge not only makes you more comfortable with yourself, it also helps you move forwards in a more confident way.
Once you relax and accept that you really are a good person just trying to do your best and that you make mistakes sometimes, then that mindset is going to be reflected outwards and come back to you in good ways. You'll discover that people trust and respect you all the more for being comfortable with allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Be who you are. Trust in yourself. It will come back to you in amazing ways. Don't be so focused on achieving one particular outcome that you miss all kinds of wonderful opportunities because you fear making mistakes. Mistakes are good things. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Or even better, celebrate. You’ve probably just learned a better way to do something. Or as Danish Nobel Prize winner, Niels Bohr, says, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field”. You could now consider yourself an expert in your field.
It truly is all in how you think about it.