Have you made mistakes in your life which you regret? Who hasn’t?! I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have regrets. If you feel this way often, this post will help you see your past differently. We’ll be exploring the concept that it’s not possible to make a mistake.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
There’s No Such Thing as a Mistake
We’re going to talk today about the fact that there’s no such thing as a mistake.
It’s not possible to make a mistake.
If you’ve been beating yourself up for something you’ve done, let that “stuff” go. Because mistakes are not possible.
Where did this way of thinking come from?
If you haven’t read the previous blog post, “Is There Really a Purpose Behind Difficult Things?” please take a look at it because it’s important for understanding this concept.
I learned the concept that there’s a purpose behind everything since I grew up with a brother who is severely retarded.
This experience taught me that there’s a purpose to everything. And it also taught me, in hindsight, that there’s no such thing as a mistake.
Think about it. Were his birth defects a mistake? Did G-d make a mistake when He made him?
Also, my brother was born in the ’70s, during the height of institutionalism. My parents were strongly advised to institutionalize him. Did they make a mistake by not doing so?
I love this by Richard Bach that speaks to this concept. He wrote:
There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen.
Where I am Today
My brother’s “disability” was not a mistake. We weren’t getting the short straw.
Because there are no mistakes.
Look at the person I’ve become because of my brother.
I’m compassionate. I help others. I have warmth and love in my heart for everyone.
All because of my brother.
There are no mistakes. G-d didn’t make a mistake when He made him.
Same with the choices you’ve made in your life.
Things You’ve Done
You may be questioning choices you’ve made in your own life.
What if you made a choice that was “wrong?”
Perhaps you chose a school for your kids and it was a terrible fit and your kids got bullied?
Or maybe you married someone who beat you?
Or maybe you yell at your kids constantly?
Whatever you do feel guilty or shame about, you cannot make a mistake.
The reason why you cannot make a mistake is that you make the best decision you can with the knowledge you have available to you at the time, and the person you are at the time.
This doesn’t mean that looking back, you didn’t wish you made a different decision. Instead, it means that at the time, that decision was right for you.
There are No Mistakes
Here’s a quote from a book I got from my coaching school, iPEC, when I became certified as a coach:
There are no ‘mistakes,’ only different varieties of ways to experience life and remember more of who we are. We make choices based on our past, our belief system, our values, and perhaps even the collective consciousness that’s ingrained in our DNA. We always choose what we believe is the best possible choice in any given situation. Instead of directing energy toward the past by beating ourselves up over ‘mistakes,’ relax in knowing that no one ever ‘makes’ a mistake.
You can’t make a mistake because you make the BEST choice you can at the time.
At the time, my parents chose not to institutionalize my brother.
Does this mean that someone else who did this was wrong?
No, it doesn’t.
It means that given their knowledge and their beliefs at the time, and given the level of disability they were dealing with, it was the right decision.
What you viewed as a “mistake” had a purpose. Maybe that purpose was difficult. I’m not saying that every decision you make is necessarily a good one — but it’s not a mistake. Because you learn from it.
You Learn and you Change as a Person
With every decision you make, you learn. Whether you look back and think you made a good decision or not, you learn and grow as a person.
Just as I became the person I am because of my brother.
But you know when you don’t learn?
You don’t learn when you look back at something and feel shame for making the wrong decision. For making a mistake.
That puts you in a place of shame and finger-pointing, even if it’s only at yourself.
How can you grow and learn if you’re busy beating yourself up?
Next time you’re going down that path where you beat yourself up for “making a mistake,” I want you to remind yourself that you cannot make a mistake.
You made the best decision you could at the time. It was the RIGHT decision at the time (given what knowledge you had then) or you wouldn’t have made it.
And if you look back and the decision with kindness, then you can start learning from it and appreciating the lessons.
Learn the Lesson
Choose to learn the lesson instead of seeing something as a mistake. Figure out the purpose and grow.
The more you do this, the more you won’t be scared to make decisions.
And being kind to yourself, my friend, that’s what it’s all about.
Because once you’re kind to yourself, that’s when you can learn and grow and perhaps make a different decision in the future.