Self care tip #2: mistakes, mistakes, mistakes!
When things go wrong, it’s very easy for us to hold ourselves responsible, blame ourselves and then blame ourselves again. When we’re nervous about something, it’s easy for us to only think about everything that could go wrong. How exhausting is that?
Why are we setting ourselves up against us?
Something I’ve learned about mistakes is that they happen, and they’ll always happen. No matter how big or small, you have to learn to just let them be and then move on. Trust me, it’s so much easier said than done, but you have to start. Sometimes we make a mistake and it feels like everything’s over, and you can get stuck in a cycle of self-loathing. Since we were kids, we’ve been trained to see mistakes as a bad thing. We get big red X’s on our tests and see our parents disapproving face, we do something wrong and get scolded, so as we get older we try to make as little mistakes as possible because our brain now associates mistakes as a negative thing. But they’re not! Mistakes can suck, we’ve all been there, but it’s time to start seeing them as things that happen and things that can be easily moved on from. When you move on, you get to see past only the mistake, and you get to see the good, or you get to see the bad; but then you’ll know what to do about it.
Mistakes come and go, you’ll be making them your whole life, so why not have a good relationship with them?
I take Improv classes, and I remember the first class I took, they told us to not think about anything and just jump into a game, and to not worry about making mistakes. In fact, mistakes were highly encouraged because that’s where the fun is. But it was so hard, not just for me, but for all the first time improvisers in the room with me. It was so hard to just jump in and do something because we were all thinking of what to do. We were all in our heads because we didn’t want to make a mistake (I mean, who wants to make a mistake in a room with 15 other people? No, thank you!). How crazy is that? We were told to make mistakes and to not think about it, and we couldn’t. So, 7 weeks was spent with our instructor making us play really fast thinking games, so we could stop thinking! We had to be taught how to be okay with making mistakes, and how stop thinking about them if we did make them. We had to be conditioned (by being put on the spot too fast to be given time to think) to be present and to stop getting lost in our heads. It was hard, it was horrible and embarrassing, and I’m still learning, but I’m so much better at making mistakes than I was that first class.
Improv: Improvisational theatre, often called improv, is the form of theatre, often comedy, in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted: created spontaneously by the performers.
That is one lesson I wish everyone could get a chance to learn. Mistakes are great!
This brings us into; we are so afraid of making mistakes, so we don’t do anything at all.
This is the thing that was happening in that improv class, all of us were too afraid to make mistakes so we found it hard to do anything at all. To this I say, just do it! Literally, just do something or say something. Whatever it is, and however you feel about it, I guarantee you’ll feel much better after taking that first step. Sometimes we’ll be playing a game, we’d be in a circle and everyone has to say a word (any word), and your turn comes up and you’re stuck saying “ah, um.” To which your instructor will roll his eyes and tell you to say anything (like, literally anything), to which you’ll say, “dog!” Then it’s over and you did it and it’s the next person’s turn. It’s the same thing when you’re up doing a scene, you just have to say or do something!
So, next time you’re afraid to make a mistake and it stops you from doing whatever it is you want to do, just take a deep breathe and then do it, take that first step.
Let’s change our relationship with mistakes so that they’re just things that happen. They can even be fun! How boring would our lives be if we never made any mistakes? Mistakes are good and you need to start conditioning yourself to feel good about them. You might feel good about mistakes, and that’s okay as long as you can respond to them positively.
Next time you’re worrying about doing something and your brain starts thinking of all the things that could go wrong, start thinking of all the things that could go right. It’s the same thing, you’re only changing what you’re thinking, and this way the possibilities are endless.
Let us know what you think! How do you deal with mistakes?