How to Handle Mistakes

Discover How To Let The Past Go And Feel More Confident About The Future

How do you feel when you make a mistake? Does the idea make you cringe?

Or are you ok with it? Are you relaxed and confident in yourself, knowing that mistakes are a part of life? Better yet, do you see the power of mistakes and know how to use them to help you learn and grow faster than the rest?

In today’s show, you’re going to discover how to embrace mistakes and use them to gain even more momentum towards greater self-confidence and success.
Click below to hear this episode!

Do You Handle Mistakes Well?

Hey there. Welcome to another episode of today’s show. I’m glad you could join me. And though this is your first one or your 50th one but I’m always excited to be here, always excited to record these and excited to engage with you in this way and to offer you a way out, a way out of wherever you are in your life. Maybe you’re feeling stuck in some way, maybe you’re doubting yourself, maybe you have this thing where you criticize the hell out of yourself in your head and no one knows it and you kind of look okay on the outside that’s how I was for many years. And you want to be more free of that. You want to feel happier in your life. You want to like yourself more. You want to feel more confident. And whatever you want to do or maybe you’re kind of beyond that and you want to take your life to the next level. You just want to be a badass in your company. Maybe you have your own business and you want to double it. I mean, whatever you want to do this show is all about breaking free and adding more and more confidence in your own life. Because once you have that confidence I mean 95% of all the success that you want in your life material, money, business, relationships, love, and 95% of it is just your inner game, your inner confidence, working on all that stuff. The other 5% is strategies and you can just figure that stuff out along the way especially when you have the confidence to do so.

So I’m so excited to be with you here today and today we’re going to be looking at a big part of life which is how to handle mistakes and this is something that many people just have an orientation towards mistakes and they don’t question it, they don’t examine it and it really limits them. It might have really limited you in the past. It might be limiting you right now. So it’s especially good to look at this, to get a handle on this so you can shift your relationship with mistakes. And ultimately you’re shifting your relationship with yourself when you do that which if you knew the show that’s a big thing that I teach is how to change our relationship with ourselves, how to be a better coach to ourselves, how to be an optimal coach to yourself.

What is a Mistake

Let’s start with what is a mistake? Whenever I’m thinking of I’m teaching about something I like to look it up in a dictionary. And so I looked up mistake on the internet dictionary and it said, an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. And I was like, okay. What does that mean? What does wrong mean? So I looked up define wrong and it said, something that is not correct. And I was like, this feels kind of circular like what does that even mean? This was wrong, why? Right? So how do we know that it was wrong? So I came up with my own definition for mistake which I think is much better. But before I share that why don’t you think of a mistake that you’ve made right now? Recently maybe in the last week or two or a long time ago. What was the mistake? Was moving to a certain city a mistake? Was taking a certain job a mistake? Was turning a certain paper a mistake? Was it a typo in something that you did? Was it sending an email that you didn’t want to send later on a mistake? Was breaking up with someone a mistake? Whatever comes to your mind small or big just think of a mistake and then let me ask you this, how do you know it was a mistake? Why was it a mistake? Right? So it’s a word that we use and we just kind of know it. Oh, well, because it just was. It was wrong. It was incorrect. And I don’t know what you are focusing on right now but my definition for mistake is something that results in an unwanted outcome that brings pain. I think that’s a definition of mistake.

So let’s say you’re deciding , you know, shall I go out? Someone invited me to a dinner party and should I go or not? Should I go or not? Should I go or not? And you go and then later on you’re like, oh that was a mistake I shouldn’t have gone. Why would that be the case? Well because going there sucked, right? You didn’t like it. You didn’t have a good time there. The outcome was unwanted, right? The outcome you wanted was to have a great time or to meet someone or whatever your expectations were. So that was the wanted outcome it didn’t happen and then at unwanted outcome. Now if it’s unwanted outcome that is pretty minor or doesn’t bring us pain and we don’t really care about it. It’s not really a mistake. It’s just like, meh. But, you know, like let’s say you see a movie and it wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible you probably wouldn’t walk out of that being like, that was a terrible mistake. What have I done? Right? But when it’s the unwanted outcome that brings pain then we label it as a mistake and pain in this case can be loss, discomfort, a negative response from others, anything along those lines.

So a mistake is just an unwanted outcome that brings pain. Are you with me so far? Does it check out with your mistake that you were thinking of? Maybe scan back to other mistakes is that always the case like you know it’s mistake because the outcome is not what you wanted or not what you thought would happen and it sucked in somewhere, right? It was lost or discomfort or people were upset with you. Something along those lines. Maybe you felt embarrassed. So that’s a mistake. So for example this is a fun one. A lot of people I talked to especially people who want to be more socially confident, more bold, they want to be able to just share more freely and part of that is making jokes. And some people I know are really funny when they’re around their friends or their family and they’re more relaxed but when they meet new people and this is especially important for all kinds of relationship. Social relationships especially dating but also in business. I mean if we can make jokes, if we can before a meeting when there’s a chit chat part you can kind of, you know, put people at ease by having them laugh a little bit, incredibly powerful makes you really charismatic. So it’s a really valuable skill to be able to bring your humor out in all situations. And a common fear is what if I make a joke and no one laughs and then it’s going to be really awkward?

So here’s the thing though. This is funny. You make a joke and everyone laughs, right? The whole room just cracks up. Is that a mistake? Hell, no, right? Typically we’re like, yeah, I’m badass, I’m awesome, I’m on fire. Right? But then you make the joke and then no one laughs. Was the joke a mistake? Well your mind might say, yeah because no one laughed and now it’s really awkward. So let’s just see what’s starting to emerge here is the outcome is what you want, it’s good, and if it’s not it’s a mistake. But how do you know that before you make the joke? Interesting, huh? Maybe you can’t. What if you make a joke and then someone gets upset? Like I’m offended. I’m offended by your joke. Shit now was that a mistake? And this is another common one. Sometimes we buy something, buyers are more , right? We buy something and after we buy it we’re like, that was a mistake. I’m sure you’ve had that. We can have that sometimes immediately after buying which is really interesting, right? Because we haven’t even had time to use the thing that we bought it’s just fear that comes in. oh my god that was  And if you’ve seen the show, Arrested Development, there’s a character in there named Job who anytime he makes a decision of any sort right after he makes a decision like instantly even before he can see how I unfolds he goes, I’ve made a huge mistake. And that’s just a fearful way of living, right? We’re always afraid. We’re afraid of pain. We’re afraid of future pain.

So now we’re flushing out what a mistake is really and hoping you really start to think about this like, what is a mistake anyway? That’s my whole intention in this first segment here is just get you questioning it because then we can kind of loosen it a little bit in our minds and then we’re going to take a quick break and when we get back we’re going to look at why we’re so scared of mistakes and then we’re going to learn how to handle mistakes so they don’t scare us and they don’t stop us. We’re not so hesitant anymore.

So stay tuned, we’ll be right back right after this.

Welcome back. Why are we so scared of making a mistake? Why is it something that we’re so costly trying to monitor and make sure that we avoid and then we feel real bad after we do it as if it were some terrible situation that we should’ve known, we should’ve avoided, we spend a lot of time beating ourselves up about it. What’s going on here? Well, here’s the thing. On some level when we make a mistake I think many of us have been conditioned to believe that we shouldn’t make mistakes. There’s a lot of conditioning from a really young age that making a mistake being incorrect being wrong is stupid, you know. Especially in school perhaps you get a lot of wrong items on a test then you’re stupid and that it’s really important to be right and that when we’re wrong we make a mistake we’re bad in some way, right? It plugs in the shame a sense of feeling I’m bad. And typically that happens because we do something and then someone gets upset with us. A parent or someone who’s powerful in our lives says like, why did you do that? That was bad. That was wrong. Right? And so we get this conditioning where now mistakes are equated in our mind, in our nervous system as if like we’re real bad. It’s like a mistake to reveal some underlying horrible flaw in us that were terrible. And many people are walking around with the subconscious belief that they shouldn’t make any mistakes and so when they do make a mistake it’s a terrible breach, it’s an unacceptable thing, and they should’ve known better. And then they just try to beat the crap out of themselves in their head in a futile attempt, ineffective attempt to make sure they never make a mistake again. It’s the illusion that if I beat myself up enough I’ll never do something again which as a side not is the worst strategy, it never works.

So let’s say you’re trying to go on a diet and you’re saying I’m not going to eat any sugar and stuff then you eat a bunch of cookies. You eat a package of Double Stuff Oreos one night and then afterwards you’re like, oh my god I suck. I’m terrible. I’m big. I’m awful. And we think that that beating, that punishment is going to prevent us from doing it again or replace Double Stuff Oreos with drinking or pot or whatever thing you’re trying to do less of or not do and then you do it and you beat yourself up. You are not helping yourself do less of it. Actually you’re going to bring about more of it because you’re going to feel so terrible about yourself, you’re going to feel guilty, you’re going to feel bad, you’re going to feel shame, and there’s going to be more of an urge to do things that takes away that bad feeling which is eating another package of Double Stuff Oreos or whatever it is for you.

So, really that’s just a side note that is worth its weight in gold if you can really get that one but it does not work. You cannot beat yourself to doing something better. But we have this same approach with mistakes I’ll just beat the crap out of myself with my mistake and you can beat yourself up inn your head by saying like, that was awful, that was stupid. You can also just replay the movie again and again. Have you ever done that where you kind of replay a scene and the tone of the scene is like you’re the bad guy, you’re the fool, you’re the stupid guy. And you just replay it again and again you kind of cringe. Each time it plays again and again and it’s terrible and awful. And that’s some misguided attempt to prevent you from making future mistakes. But it doesn’t work. Because here’s the thing, you cannot avoid mistakes, you cannot avoid mistakes. It’s impossible. Why? Because a mistake is an unwanted outcome. So in order to avoid mistakes you have to avoid outcomes because you can’t always get the outcome you want. I mean that is an absurd demand on reality that everything should go exactly how I want it every time and that’s what we’re doing. So it’s like this inner kid of tantrum-y little kid way of approaching the world. Like everything should go my way all the time. Right? So when you have that demand that you shouldn’t make mistakes that’s what you’re doing. You’re approaching life in a really immature way.

And what we want to do is we want to grow up. We want to mature and say, you know what, there are outcomes. Every action I take is going to have an outcome. Every action I take. And sometimes those outcomes are going to be what I want and sometimes they’re not going to be what I want. So do you see how there is no way to avoid unwanted outcomes? Other than to not take any action and even that you’ll still get unwanted outcomes, right? If you avoid something for a million years there’s still going to be some outcome from that. No action is still action in a sense. So we have to let go of this demand that we shouldn’t make mistakes. It’s ridiculous and it’s toxic and it hurts you. So we’re going to let that go right now and just be like, yeah, I make all kinds of mistakes. I want to make mistakes at least once. That’s what I did for myself when I was really working on this was like, I’m going to make a mistake a day. You know I used to get really down on myself because I would be in a session with someone this was back when I was doing therapy and not coaching and I was in my training and I was working, I don’t know. One year I was working with high school students and they were in a rough way, man. They were in this like continuation school as in they got expelled from the main school and, you know, this bad home life and drugs and just like kind of intense situations and I would after sessions be like, oh that was a mistake. I didn’t say this or I should’ve said that and I would just beat myself up. I was taking way too much responsibility for the whole situation.

And what I started to do is like, you know what, I’m going a mistake a session at least. So I started to give myself more permission to do that. And I hope the same is true for you a you’re listening just to give yourself more permission. In fact what we’re going to need to do is we’re going to take a break and when we get back though I’m going to teach you how to handle mistakes because that’s one of the reasons why we don’t want to make them is because they make us feel so bad so then we don’t because we’re not good at handling them because we try to avoid them our whole life.

How to Handle Mistakes

So how to handle mistakes? I have a bunch of good stuff for you right now that I’m excited to share. First, we got to embrace them. Embrace mistakes. Invite them in. Know that mistakes are the fastest way to learn. I remember reading an article a while back and I wish I’d saved it because I don’t know exactly where it was but the short version of it was they had these little kids I think they were like 6 years old or something, first graders. Really little kids and they had their normal play area with their, you know, toys or whatever else they have for 6-year-old kids to do during recess indoors and they setup a little computer terminal for them and it was like standing high had a little keyboard and a screen and they put some stuff into the computer some programs that basically the kids could interact with but there’s no instructions, there’s no clarity how it works, no one taught them what it did they just put it there and then just left it there. And guess what the kids did. That’s right, they went over to the computer and they just started poking at it. They started typing things, they started trying things, they started getting errors, they started getting mistakes and they just kept on playing with it, playing with it, playing with it, and I guess they figured out this program in like an incredible they figure it out really quickly and everyone was surprised because they had no instruction on how to do that. But the idea was that they’re just little kids and I’m sure you’ve seen this they just go pick something up like what is this thing. And they bang it against something and they try it out, or you put a keyboard in front of a kid and he starts banging keys. You give him a pen and some paper or some crayons and he just starts drawing stuff, right? Because he just experiments. He has no fear about making mistakes versus I remember when I was younger this was back in the 90s and we got a computer and it was cool I played the Wolfenstein 3D on it. Yeah, it was awesome. But my mom had not had much exposure to computers for much of her life and yet she wanted to learn how to use it, she wanted to learn this, you know, fancy thing called email, keep in touch with people and yet she was terrified of doing anything because she was afraid of making, that’s right, a mistake.

What if I break the computer? What if everything falls? She really had this fear where she would like press the button on the keyboard or click something and the whole thing would like melt in the flames and explode. And I would sit there and be like, no, no, you can’t do anything, you can’t break anything. You’re just typing in a text window right now. But that’s the fear that we have. So we have to shift that. We have to start to embrace mistakes. Invite them in. Know that it’s the fastest way that you’re going to learn. The more mistakes you can make the faster you can learn.

Second thing to know is that it’s an inevitable part of taking action. You take action you get results or outcomes. Mistakes are one kind of outcome so you have to know. If you slow, if you’re trying to avoid a certain type of outcome and you start to be really cautious and slow and hesitant then you’re going to slow your rate of outcomes down and that’s not good. If you want to get confidence, if you want to increase your income, if you want to increase your sales, if you want to have more dating opportunities, if you want to have a better life all of that is going to come from getting a lot of outcomes quickly. Or you can do it slowly I mean that’s fine too. Some people I work with around the slow track and that’s just the way they want to do it. I personally am on the fast track. I want to expand and grow as quickly as I can while being compassionate with myself of course. So I like, you know, rapid. I like fast results and the best way to do that is to take a lot of actions and not try to filter ahead of time and say, well is that one going to go the way I wanted to? I can’t know for sure so I’ll wait and do nothing, right? SO if you do that you’re just going to really slow your progress down.

Another thing we got to do with mistakes is learn from them. So when you get an outcome that you don’t want say, huh, this needs work. I love that phrase by the way. I just go, huh. And this is great when I kind of interrupt the pattern of beating yourself up like outcome, you know, it’s not the way you wanted to be and you’re like, oh my god that was terrible. You know it’s not happening just go, huh, that needs work. And then search for one or maybe two tops things to learn. As yourself, what did I learn from this? Or, what could I learn from this? Find one thing maybe two and then stop, let it go. Because sometimes we can drag ourselves to the mud and be like, okay I got to learn these 15 things. And you also want to be wary of what lessons you learn from it.

I remember I was talking with one client and he had a situation where he was in a sales conversation and towards the end they’ve been talking about it back and forth for a while and then he asked again and then the person said, you know, I don’t appreciate you pressuring me like this. And I heard a lot about the conversation and, you know, so I said to him well, what did you learn from that? You know, because he didn’t get the sale. And he said I learned to never ask twice. And I raised my eyebrow and I was like, okay. That’s one lesson. That’s one lesson you could learn from this but let’s see if we can do a little better because that’s not the right lesson. You don’t want to draw a lesson that says I’m never going to __ again or I’m going to take fewer risks or I’m going to make sure that I’m even more cautious before I take my next step. Because no, no, no, we want to learn a better thing. We want  to learn a better lesson form that like perhaps maybe I could ask him more questions or how can I get into a better rapport with him so he trust me or so he feels like I’m actually going for the same results as him and I’m not trying to pressure him, or how can I respond to that if someone were to say like I don’t appreciate you pressuring me, right? Because then he had nothing to say he just kind of went like, oh I’m so sorry, right? You could say something like, oh wow, so it feels to you right now like I’m pressuring you or wanting you to do something. Is that right? So you just get curious and find out what their experience is and whatever. That’s a whole other topic of sales confidence. But do you see what I’m saying there? You want to make sure the lesson that you get is going to serve you.

So, before we get to the end of our episode here today and the action step there’s one last thing I want to share about how to handle mistakes which to me has been the most liberating thing of all and I state it to the very end. So, only the motivated who made it all the way to the end of this episode are going to get this incredibly valuable gem. I mean this has transformed my entire relationship to mistakes, my entire relationship to life in a way. And that is this idea of what is a mistake anyways? And I tend to believe that there is no bad outcome, personally. That’s my own personal philosophy. And this is a great story that illustrates this and it’s a Taoist tale of a farmer and his son and it’s like in ancient China and so it’s a farmer and a son have a plot of land and they are working the land one day and they have a horse and a plow and something happens and the horse breaks free and just runs off into the forest. And so that evening all the villagers and all the farmers gather around and say, wow this is terrible. This is great misfortune. You don’t have a horse. It’s plowing season. You’re not going to be able to do it. You’re too old, your son can’t do it all by himself. You know, you guys are screwed or whatever the ancient Chinese equivalent of the word screwed is. And the farmer said, maybe, maybe not. And they all gave him kind of a weird look like this guy’s kind of weird. It’s obviously bad. It’s obviously a mistake. It was a mistake to tie your horse in that way so it could break free. Obviously bad.

The next day, the horse returns and following her is a big stallion beast of a horse and they managed to capture it into a pen or whatever. And then that night everyone gathers around all the villagers were like, oh my god, this is great fortune. This is the best thing that can happen to you. This is awesome. And the farmer said, maybe, maybe not. And so the next day they’re trying to break the horse trying to put a bridle on it or whatever so it can help them in their field plow for them. And as they’re doing this at one point the son is actually on the horse and it bucks and throws him across the field and he lands poorly and h breaks his leg. And then so everyone gathers around that night and said, wow this is truly a tragedy. I mean this is by far the worst thing. This is a bad thing that could happen to you and now your son can’t do anything in the field and you guys are going to be, you know, starved this plowing season you’re not going to be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that could happen to you. The farmer says, that right, maybe, maybe not. Because the very next day the local feudal lord moves through with his army and is going from village to village to gather all able bodied young men to go fight in some war at the border that probably doesn’t matter for anyone’s life just for the own feudal lord’s glory or whatever. And they take all young men to go fight in some war and probably many of them will get injured, maybe some of them will die except for the farmer’s son.

So is that good, is that bad? I don’t know. What happens next? And that’s the case. That’s how we want to approach mistakes, outcomes in life. Everything is moving to the next thing and it is impossible to tell that something is benefitting you or not. Afterwards I tend to believe that everything is serving me, everything is benefitting me. Everything is unfolding to my best benefit. It’s just a matter of finding and seeing that and waiting long enough to see the results of that. In this story it’s dramatic it happens the next day but sometimes for us it happens the next week, the next month.

When I was 15 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and that was the worst thing that can happen to me and now I see I mean it has just totally expanded over the last many years how I see health, how I take care of my body, everything I’ve explored, how open-minded I am about learning about new healing and other things. All from that. Incredible benefit. For me and for many, many other people that have helped with that stuff. So something bad is a mistake a really terrible? No. It’s just information and outcome it’s something that’s actually serving you in the long run. In fact that brings us to our action step for today.

Action Step

Your action step for today is to look at a past mistake. Something that was terrible when it happened and then with the hindsight looking back with 20/20 see how it actually serves you. What good came from this? How did this serve you? What was the benefit of this? How did I use this in my life? How could I use this in my life? How is this actually helping me in some way or how has it already helped me? How is it to my best benefit? Really look, find a mistake, and see that because when you do that, when you can do that with something in the past but that sets you up to not be so scared of mistakes now, to not have such a fearful antagonistic relationship with mistakes because you know there are no mistakes and that everything is serving you in your life and it’s just about taking action getting the outcomes, learning from it, and growing and then nothing can stop you from just continuing on your progress towards greater confidence in yourself then using that confidence to go out there and do what you want to do in your life. Date the person you want to date. Marry the person that you want to date. Earn the money that you want to earn. Do the kind of work that you want to do in the world. All of that comes from confidence and that confidence comes from being willing to take action and make mistakes and know that everything is serving you, everything is for your best benefit.

It has been great talking with you today. Go to facebook.com/socialconfidence to share what you learned about mistakes in this episode. I’d love to hear it, love to interact with you there. Until we speak again. May you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.

Music Credit

All music is licensed or royalty free.

Intro:
DeepSound – Rain Clouds
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Ask The Shrink:
Boccherini Minuet
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Action Step:
Justin Crosby – Skrillit
(Licensed through Pond5.com)

Outro:
Lokfield – Terra’s Theme Dubstep
soundcloud.com/lokfield
(Creative Commons License)

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