Do You Ruminate on Mistakes or Let Go and Learn?
Many of you may know that I (Donna) am a baseball fan. As a young girl, I played softball, the only sport available to girls in our small Missouri town. I continue to enjoy the finer points of the game.
Last week I watched a relief pitcher on my favorite team come into the game and pitch in extra innings. The game was tied, and the stakes were high since this was the playoffs. With one fastball he gave up a home run and lost the game for his team. I felt bad for him and later wondered if he lost sleep that night. “Probably lying awake worried about that home run,” I thought.
The next morning, I read his quote in the newspaper: “It was just one pitch,” he said of the home run. “It’s going to happen. I got over it. I think that’s something that comes with experience.”
His healthy approach to his miscue got me thinking about how important it is to let go of mistakes. Baseball players with a .300 batting average are considered excellent hitters. That means they fail over two-thirds of the time!
Are you that resilient—ready for another challenge after a mistake—or do you ruminate on your missteps?
Learning to allow your best self, your Creator essence in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® to emerge, requires that you have a healthy amount of ambition and drive. You want to succeed, which means you must take risks and try new approaches. When you take more risks, there’s fertile ground for more miscues.
Ruminating on mistakes causes you to relive the episode and activate the stress associated with the mistake over and over. This is your “Inner-Persecutor” criticizing you for what happened. The Persecutor, one of the three roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), is the aspect of your reacting ego that wants to be right, in control, and look good. When this happens, it may cause you to be less than honest about your mistakes and prevent you from learning from them.
There is a much healthier way to approach mistakes. You can learn to reflect on the situation, identify and describe the good, and adjust for your “next pitch.” Even in the face of the home run and lost game, the hometown pitcher described how the experience will help him be a better pitcher.
It is essential to admit a mistake. If not, rejection of reality may cause a repression of negative emotions that will emerge at another time. Repression or denying the truth of the mistake prevents growth, while admitting to the mistake allows you to open yourself to new learning.
Try these strategies to support your learning when mistakes occur and avoid the toxic game of endlessly mulling over details:
- Use a journal to reflect on the situation. Describe the good more than emphasizing what went wrong.
- Confide in a friend and describe the situation. During the conversation use phrases like: “Now I see that I could have…” or “I understand that I…”
- Avoid associating with people who want to gossip about mistakes and continue to talk about the gory details.
- Take forward action. Do something, take one baby step to move forward and help regain positive momentum.
There is a Chinese saying about a seeker who climbs a very high mountain to ask a wise person about the meaning of life.
Wise one, what is the most important aspect of one’s life?
How do you get experience?
How do you get good judgment?
The innate Creator essence in all of us wants to learn and grow. Take a tip from the pitcher’s playbook and allow your mistakes to be your teacher.