Have you ever made a crucial mistake at work or in your personal life and felt frustrated or even blamed yourself? If you are like me, you can be your own worst critic and be too hard on yourself. As a result, we can end up dwelling on our past mistakes so much that it weakens the relationship you have with yourself and your relationships with others. We have a hard time moving on from those mistakes. Maybe you were turned down from a promotion, or failed to make a sale, or meet a project deadline.
When we make those kinds of mistakes, we blame ourselves. Some of us may yell at ourselves in the mirror or replay the situation repeatedly to understand what went wrong and hope we can have a “do over” for a better outcome. We may call ourselves foul names like, stupid, idiot, or jerk, or something much worse!
Stop — don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. It won’t be your first and most certainly it will not be your last time making mistakes. And while you are busy yelling and cursing yourself out, your mental and emotional state may be suffering from this harsh treatment. The relationships you have with your colleagues may also suffer because you may take out your frustration on them. I believe that most of us would rather not treat ourselves or others so harshly, but it may be the only thing we can think of to punish ourselves or remedy the situation. This is unproductive—you only have one life, so let’s treat ourselves with care, give ourselves a break. I believe most of us would rather learn from our mistakes quickly so we can move on instead of dwelling on the situation. Here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to be more compassionate towards yourself. It will not only improve the relationship you have with yourself, but with others too, so that you can improve the relationship you have with yourself and with others.
- Recognize Your Emotions — Seek to understand and reflect what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way and write down those emotions. ex. frustration, anger, resentment. The more self-aware you are of your emotions and the triggers that prompt those emotions, the more clarity you will achieve about why you are beating yourself up for making a mistake.
- Accept Your Emotions — Don’t deny what you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel. Give yourself the space to own your emotions! Sometimes we feel vulnerable or embarrassed about admitting to our emotions, especially when it comes to making mistakes. Just as you admitted to your mistakes, own up to your emotions and admit how you are feeling. It helps to state how you feel to a trusted partner who is unaware of the situation so that they can listen.
- Ask What, Not Why — This helps you focus on what you can control—Learning from your mistake or helping others learn from your mistake.
When you ask the question “why” it may lead to reasons outside of your control.
Ex. Why didn’t I get that opportunity? Why did I make that mistake? These questions do not help you move on–it adds to more frustration.
When you ask the question “what”, it allows you to focus on what you can control—getting your next opportunity, learning from your mistakes, and identify the solutions to help you get there.
Ex. Instead of asking “why” did this happen to me? Ask “what” can I do differently for a better outcome? “What” can I do to be more flexible? “What lesson can I learn to prevent this from happening again?
Asking the question “what” forces you to proactively think about solving your problem so that you can be more resilient, bounce back and move on.
Losing out on opportunities and making mistakes is disappointing. But it’s not the end of the world. Mistakes, big and small can happen to anyone at any time. But following these steps will help you practice more self-compassion so that you can rebuild the relationship with your mind, soul, and body and with others who bear the brunt of your frustration. These steps will help you bounce back, learn from your mistakes, recover from disappointment, and become more resilient. In the end it will lead to more opportunities and success.