Making Mistakes – We All Do

Spilled Raspberries

Today I was outside in our garden picking raspberries. As I was reaching up under the berries I snapped off a vine that had about 20 unripe berries on it.  I made a mistake. It was frustrating and I wished that I had not done it. When the vine is snapped all the attached berries lose their nutrition and can’t survive. They don’t become edible berries.

Not 5 minutes later, I sat my raspberry bowl on a brick and climbed over a short fence to do some weeding. As I was climbing back over the fence, I stepped on the bowl of raspberries and crushed some and scattered the rest.  Another mistake that caused me to lose some of my fruit.

It used to be that I would be angry and frustrated with myself when I made mistakes, I would berate and scold myself for being clumsy. I rarely do that anymore.  It used to be that if I made a mistake, I thought I had to hide it. I thought people would think less of me if they knew I made mistakes.  I thought I had to be perfect all the time, superhuman.

For two years, I worked with a coach to learn to coach myself. I learned that mistakes are just being human, and now I am often the first to to point out my mistakes.  Today when I snapped the raspberry vine I felt sad for all those lost raspberries, but I wasn’t mad at myself.  I noticed how brittle the vines were and decided to be more careful with them in the future.  That was it – no drama about how I should have known not to snap that vine. Nothing else.

My reaction when I stepped in the raspberry bowl and scattered all the raspberries was again, that I was having a very human day and that clumsy is a human characteristic. Again I didn’t get mad or frustrated, even though I didn’t like having crushed raspberries on my shoes. I recognize the mistake, learn from it and moved on. It’s as simple as that.

I am so grateful that I’ve learned that I can make mistakes and that I am human. My 9 year old grandson lives with his mom at our house. He is very sensitive about making mistakes. He apologizes a lot and is ashamed and embarrassed every time he makes a mistake.  Every time he apologies for breaking, losing or destroying something at my house, he rushes to apologize with tears in his eyes. I am so glad that I can teach him what I’ve learned about making mistakes:

  • We all make them
  • Mistakes are a characteristic of being human
  • Apologize when necessary, but learn from it and move on 
  • Don’t agonize over the mistake or revisit it repeatedly

I am very grateful that I am able to share what I have learned with my grandson. I hope it’s a lesson that he learns as a child so he doesn’t have to suffer from thinking that he can’t ever make mistakes, that he has to hide them.

I wish I had learned this lesson when I was 9!

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