3 Truths About Making a Mistake
I have a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Though we live in the same neighborhood and were even in the same church small group for a while, our paths don’t currently cross in our daily routine. We’d been trying to connect for a while, but aligning our schedules seemed to be an enormous challenge.
I was excited when I had a window of time open up, so before I started my work day of back-to-back clients, I reached out to her via messenger and asked if she could meet for coffee the next day. She responded that she was free, and I was thrilled that it was going to work out. I jumped into work and didn’t think another thing of it—until I checked my phone after my last client.
I had a message from her, letting me know she was at the coffee shop and asking if she had the right location. Then another one, letting me know she had to go and was sad we missed each other. My heart stopped for a quick second as I realized she went to our coffee appointment that day. Not the next day.
As much as I hate to admit it, when things like this happen, I am usually the common denominator, the reason for miscommunication. I quickly looked back at my message to her, and, yep, it was me. I was typing my initial message so quickly that I failed to use the most important word: Friday. I had simply asked if she could meet for coffee at nine thirty, so why wouldn’t she assume I meant that same day? Ugh. I felt like a loser. Shame washed over me in a flood of yuck. I wanted to fix it, but it was already done.
That’s the thing about shame. It wants us to stay stuck and wallow in our imperfection. It wants us to believe redemption and reconciliation are impossible.
Instead, consider these three truths about mistakes so that shame can’t keep you stuck:
1. Mistakes are universal.
Really, we all make them. Yet, somehow, our mistakes seem worse than anyone else’s. Our goof-ups seem more frequent. But, guess what? You get to make mistakes and so do I. You get to be human and so do I.
2. Mistakes help us grow.
Our mistakes give us the tools necessary to grow. We learn as we make mistakes. Fail forward. Instead of wishing for a smooth path, learn from the bumps in the road. Next time, I bet you steer around them.
3. Mistakes don’t define us.
It might feel like you are your mistakes, but you are not. It might feel like your mistakes are burned into your story like a scarlet letter, but they aren’t. We are not our mistakes, and if we stay stuck in them, we only have ourselves to blame.
Let them go. Ask for forgiveness if you need to. Apologize where you have gotten it wrong. Carrying around the burden of past mistakes or offenses isn’t doing you any good. And it is not helping anyone else out either.
Luckily, my friend was gracious and forgiving. She knew I had made an unintentional mistake and moved on. That is why she is a friend.
Kim Anderson is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-MHSP) and a Certified Life Professional Coach (CPLC) who loves helping others live their lives with passion and purpose. She lives with her husband and two teenagers outside of Nashville, in Franklin, Tennessee, where she loves seasons, rolling hills, and the warmth of the South. Follow Kim at www.kimanderson.life, on Instagram @kim_anderson_life, and on Facebook@ KimAndersonLifeCoachingto learn more about what she offers.