Tag Archives: personal responsibility

Mistakes: A Different Perspective

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I make mistakes…all the time.

I forgot my wallet once (ok, more than once). I left it at a busy, locally popular restaurant and made it all the way home before I realized it was missing. In a panic, I sped to retrieve it knowing, just knowing, someone probably took it and was at that very moment making frivolous purchases…like jet packs or collectible trinkets on eBay, or both. I pulled up, jumped out and ran inside, but before I could muster a syllable I was approached by one of the staff, who held out my wallet.

“I thought you might be back soon. A man brought this to the counter, said it had been left in the booth.”

I stood dumbstruck for what felt like a solid minute, blinking and looking around. I thanked her, took my wallet, and headed back to my car, shaking my head the whole way, staring at it as if it was a unicorn. Once inside my vehicle I feverishly checked through it because I just couldn’t believe someone would actually do the right thing. I grimaced in shame. First, because of my unforgivable stupidity (leaving my wallet, really??), second because I’d thought the worst of my fellow man for no reason.

Let’s stop right there…

It was one mistake, not the end of the world. A mistake.

That being said, if you’re like me, Dear Reader, you find it especially difficult to forgive your faults and mistakes. For some odd reason we’re less likely to allow ourselves the same latitude we allow others. We set impossible standards and when we inevitably fall short, we find it impossible to forgive ourselves. We hold on to a mistake, playing it over and over in our minds, questioning every detail and our role in it. We perform this tidy little exercise again and again, even though if someone else made the same mistake we would tell them ‘not to worry’, ‘it’s no big deal’, ‘you’re doing great’…and we would meant it. But our own mistakes, it seems, are uniquely unforgivable.

Mistakes trigger complex emotions in us. They can be internalized differently depending on delivery and elicit various responses, such as fear, disappointment, and anger. If someone confronts us with a mistake we usually respond defensively, whether we acknowledge the truth of the mistake or not, feeling as though it is a personal criticism of our character. If we personally recognize our own mistake we’re not off the hook because we tend to replace defensiveness with our own brand of harsh self-criticism. The trouble is, we tend to be ‘mistake collectors‘. We curate them as a single, large-scale exhibition of our lives, viewing them collectively as the narrative of our life, which then takes on all the charm of an enormous, matted ball of yarn that is impossible to untangle. Fortunately Dear Reader, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Perfection is a MYTH.

We are incapable of perfection. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to do our best, but we need to acknowledge perfection is a myth and we are quite adept at making small, medium, and even epic mistakes, and that’s okay because mistakes are necessary. A mistake is nothing more than a catalyst.

Consider the situation I described at the start (forgetting my wallet). My mistake was personally recognized. However, it forced me to return to the restaurant which carried some potential for criticism, either privately or openly, from others (staff or customers), and this elicited fear and defensiveness, which in turn enhanced the myth of my mistake’s enormity. Contrary to the myth, several incredible things were catalyzed by my ‘mistake’. First, it induced a response from another human being, allowing him the opportunity to decisively exercise agency, positively or negatively. (Thankfully, he chose to respond positively by turning in my wallet.) His response then held the potential to impact others. (Again, thankfully, his choice of response radiated positivity and kindness to the staff.) Likewise, his response renewed a sense of confidence and optimism in me toward my fellow man. The mistake I made also prompted me to make positive behavioral changes. In particular, I exercised greater vigilance and awareness, and suffered less fear that others would choose to exploit my mistakes if given a chance.

I made a mistake, sure. But this perspective demonstrates that mistakes, big and small, have the power to yield a myriad of positive results.

Mistakes are necessary catalysts. Take them with a grain of salt, own them, but don’t collect and curate them. Don’t relive them, but celebrate their contributions. Move on. Respect the counsel of those who love and care and have confidence that honesty, from ourselves and others, is always the best policy. We are fallible but there’s really nothing to fear but fear itself. We are better for our mistakes, and as long as we don’t try to hide them or lie them away, we will use them in ways that make our lives better and make us better people.

Take heart, Dear Reader and be kind to, and forgiving of, yourself and your mistakes. Life’s full of ’em, so rock on…

Image cred: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fmarketingland.com%2F18-fatal-mistakes-i-regret-committing-on-social-media-in-2013-70855&psig=AOvVaw2qiCvVJEw-Rk45Aqz2VMJC&ust=1617131294343000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CA0QjhxqFwoTCIiFkteZ1u8CFQAAAAAdAAAAABAX

Own Your S***

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Personal responsibility & Hard Truths are essential for a good life…

GOOD LIFE /ɡo͝od/ /līf/

  1. A life enhanced by greater fulfillment, contentment, and happiness as the result of embracing one’s contribution(s) to their struggle and adversity in an effort to exercise personal growth.
  2. Do better, be better

Let’s start with a quick self-check:

Consistently makes mistakes. Check. Doesn’t know everything. Check. Levels unrealistic expectations on situations and others. Check. Intentionally avoids things out of fear. Check. Lies. Check. Subject to poor judgment. Check. Experiences shame. Check.

‘Welcome to the club’, as they say. Move along folks, nothing to see here. Turns out, we’re all human.

News flash: Not One Among Us is Perfect.

As if life isn’t complicated enough, each of us is burdened with our own special brand of baggage that influences how we feel, react, and see the world. Sadly we often fail to offer much compassion for the weight of our neighbor’s baggage as we practice stuffing our own ugly under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind. Truth? It’s still there…waiting…always.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to lighten the load is by exercising hard truths and taking personal responsibility for aspects of our lives that make us feel unhappy. Seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately, human beings are inclined toward comfort, and admitting the myriad of ways we orchestrate our own unhappiness is a tough order. It hurts to be brutally honest about the part we play, our missteps and mistaken choices. I get it…it’s uncomfortable.

We don’t want to feel bad. Our friends and family don’t want us to feel bad either and they’re always willing to let us off the hook because we all recognize that honesty is hard, and it doesn’t feel good to admit when we screw up.

Do it anyway.

Be courageous, exercise personal integrity, admit your choices and accept their consequences. Being brutally honest with oneself in the spirit of taking personal responsibility for our mistakes and failures (aka: owning our s***) is critical to our personal growth and happiness. Comfort breeds complacency. Noooo bueno. Complacency is the opposite of critical assessment. It is uncritical satisfaction. It’s a lie, and it isn’t lasting. Lie long enough and you’ll get real good at playing the blame game and playing the victim. It’s a bad, bad road that leads one to believe there is no freedom of choice, that the world and circumstance exercise complete agency over our lives. “Poor me, the world has it out for me. I didn’t want to do things this way, but I didn’t have a choice, and now my life sucks.”

Doesn’t sound like the kind of life I want to live. You?

While it is true there are external pressures that wield some power to negatively affect us, it is also true that our perceptions can provide us with the best course of action to combat negative spiraling. If we’re honest, we recognize and own our choices and their consequences, we learn from them, and we get on with things. We are not victims of circumstance. Complacency is a lived lie. Comfort cannot be a permanent state of being. Success and happiness are hard-won by doing the work, doing better, being better. Give yourself reasons to be proud of yourself. Get honest: who are you? what do you want, what work do you need to do to achieve it? Life can be stagnant or lived in a forward motion. It’s a choice.

Remember, Dear Reader: Lies enable complacency. Personal responsibility fuels forward motion. Another key point to remember is that you alone are responsible for your choices. It is not for others to help you fulfill or manage them. Your s***, YOU own it.

Own Your S*** and Rock On…