Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Mistakes

We all make mistakes. I know that. I try to accept it. Yet every time I err, I torture myself. I wish I could make time go backward to make the better choice, to do the right thing (whether I could have anticipated what the right thing is!).

I volunteered to watch a friend's kids for a couple of hours. Thing is, there was a snow warning. School was actually canceled, despite the fact that snow had yet to fall. I talked to the friend, and, when I learned that she had a couple of other options, accepted when she let me off the hook for the favor, due to my worries about the weather.

Turns out that there's no snow. And in fact, the roads are less hazardous than they have been due to warmer temperatures melting the black ice. I could have done the favour, no problem, and the kids would all have had a great time.

So I screwed up. I misjudged. I erred. And I can't let it go. I can't forgive myself. I guess my friend will forgive me. I hope she does. I'll owe her one or several. But I can't forgive myself.

It came to me just a few minutes ago that this inability to forgive is linked to hoarding. If I threw away something that I later wanted or needed or that turned out to be valuable, I'd feel this same crushing pain. It's awful. It's toxic. And I've felt it before, this same feeling, about things that were given away or thrown away or ruined by others or myself.

It's this same feeling that has kept me from fully using my law degree. What if I should err in a case, where not just things but people's lives or livelihoods are at stake? How could I go on from day to day knowing that mistakes will happen, that errors will be made?

The most successful people in life forgive themselves. When they err, they learn from it as best they can and they let it go. Churning these emotions is wasteful. It keeps me focused on something that can't be changed instead of moving forward.

I have no idea how to change. Imagine how that feels.


Anonymous said...

Dear heart, let me tell you something. I had this same problem my whole life. I would dwell on the stupid things I did, the things I did wrong, etc, for YEARS. They would bite me at random moments until I actually was in pain from them. I mentioned this to a therapist I went to once, and she prescribed an anti-anxiety drug. It works. It WORKS! I double-checked with my GP, and she said the same thing. Please ask your doctor about this. Describe what you feel and how you have felt, and ask if an anti-anxiety would work for you. PLEASE! It has done wonderful things for me. kcn

Jay Bazuzi said...

I don't know anything about medication for this sort of thing. If it was me, I like to think I would resist medication, but I don't really know for sure.

We've been discussing feelings about mistakes in our family. Some of us live under the pressure to never make mistakes; that mistakes are a sign of low self-worth. We are trying to work towards the idea that mistakes are a necessary & fundamental part of learning, and that to resist mistakes is to miss out on learning. It's hard work, but it's important.

I wish you luck in unlearning those lessons that cause you so much pain.

Anonymous said...

I hope you can give yourself some credit for becoming aware of this link. You might not know how to change right now. But you have learned something about yourself and you can keep going in that direction, one step at a time. Something that helps me is to write about it in a very private forum (for me a journal that no one else will ever read) - the object being to tell yourself as much truth as you can, trying to hear it and still treat yourself with the gentleness and compassion you would give a child.

Somena Woman said...

I think Anon is spot on about this. (Not medication anon - anon right above this post) Clutter is all about feelings. Clutter is what we have when we don't let ourselves really grieve - feel angry, feel hurt - feel joy... etc.

You absolutely DO need to treat yourself with the gentle compassion, love and kindness that you would treat a small child. You can not torture yourself like this.

I know that may sound contradictory - to let yourself dwell on your feelings - but to also NOT torture yourself. But lemme explain... feelings can't hurt us. Feelings are vitally important.. ALL of them. The so-called good feelings AND the so-called bad feelings.

If we try to escape from our feelings we induce the myopia that all clutter-esque people have. Give yourself permission to cry. Give yourself permission to get angry. And then comfort yourself. When you find the old tapes playing in the head - the old recriminations from childhood about how we were never good enough for our parents to love us the way we needed them to love us -- *THAT* is self-destructive. So when you find yourself scolding yourself like this -- stop the monologue... and mentally give the little child in you a big big hug - kiss her forhead and tell her.. it's ok to make a mistake. That almost every mistake can be fixed. That even if you made a mistake, you are still worthy of love, dignity, respect. It's not the feelings that are harmful to dwell on. It's the old thinking instilled in us from our childhood - that made us feel like we were never good enough. That message we recieved is NOT true - will never be true. You are worthy of love. You need to find the inner parent that you always wanted to comfort the small child you were when she had made a tiny mistake. And let THAT parent be the voice you hear - not the old messages that hurt so much.