Living inevitably means making mistakes. It pretty much can’t be helped. And while making a mistake often isn’t all that important, how we react to making that mistake is. How we treat ourself in the course of making mistakes mirrors how we treat others when they make a mistake.
It’s okay to be fallible. It is only through the process of making mistakes that we learn and grow. You didn’t learn how to walk by walking, you learned how to walk through trying and falling! So, as long as failing isn’t a life-or-death scenario, failure is an option.
I’m not saying that it’s okay to not try your best. On the contrary, I believe that giving yourself 100% to whatever it is you’re doing is of paramount importance. But being right each time, every time is not only an impractical desire, it puts too much emphasis on the destination and entirely misses the point that life is a journey.
Some of us have been taught that failure is a horrible let-down of ourself and those who love us. This programming sets us up for a nearly irreconcilable pattern of self-worth/self-esteem issues that can manifest as a fear of failure. If there have been negative affirmations offered, e.g., “You’ll never amount to anything,” then there can be the compound problem of a simultaneous fear of success, too.
What to do?
Looking at life as a journey can be helpful. What are the real consequences of getting lost or making a wrong turn on your journey? Most of the time, you’ll see something unexpected and nothing more. A good deal of that time, you’ll not only see something unexpected, but you’ll see something unexpectedly of great value.
I actually take great pleasure in choosing routes with which I’m unfamiliar, having no particular destination in mind and trusting that everything will be fine along the way. It doesn’t mean that I’m unprepared. On my motorcycle journeys, I’d always have a rain suit and small first aid kit in my tank bag. I’d have my maps and a compass such that no matter where I ended up, I’d always have a means of getting myself back on known ground.
That preparedness made it possible to fully jump into turning down a road just to see where it would lead. Did I get lost? Oh, boy, did I! Sometimes, I would wind up in a really tricky situation and have trouble getting myself turned around and back on solid ground. Other times, however, I’d find some place magical that made all the risk worthwhile.
Those magical moments stuck with me over the years. I no longer remember how I got to a particular lake one day driving home from my job in Toronto to my home in Lindsay, but I’ll never forget the experience of finding it so suddenly and being so utterly alone in one of the most beautiful places I’d seen in … well … for as long as I could remember.
If you always take the safe route – if you never take a chance – you’ll potentially miss out on the chance of making a glorious mistake that could change your life in magical ways. Forever. Don’t miss that chance.