When we realize we have made a mistake, our body physically responds as if we cannot stand our own humanness. In addition to wanting to vomit or pass out, our internal critic begins to fully endorse our own self-disgust. Oh I can’t believe you did that again! Don’t you know better by now? How could you be so stupid?
In a weird way, I think it’s our mind’s way of trying to help us. It’s trying really hard to figure out the source of our pain and discomfort, and then once it identifies it as being rooted in a mistake, it works double time to fix it. But the fix that the inner critic can provide is one rooted in the idea that because we make mistakes that these are somehow a part of us, and need to be extracted. Unfortunately the mind’s attempt to exorcise our imperfections straight back to hell is neither kind nor effective.
It is so hard to accept our humanness, especially when it leads to a misstep. Maybe we said something thoughtless to a friend, or maybe we plowed into the back end of the car we were tailgating. Maybe we completely forgot a deadline. Maybe we ate that third cookie even though we were supposed to be on a diet. Maybe we fell for someone’s poor treatment of us, again.
Making room for our mistakes is acknowledging that mistakes are part of being human, and that we still have worth in spite of them. This is not about staying stuck in unhealthy habits, letting poor behavior slide, or getting away with anything. In fact, when we make room for mistakes, we also don’t fight so hard against the repercussions of our missteps. We are able to put down the defensive strategies of lying, manipulation or even isolation to avoid the pain of the mistake and its consequences. When we make room for the lessons our mistakes have to offer, we can see them for the teachers that they truly are.