I may have said this before in a previous blog, but I want to take a look and focus on this today. (This concept has certainly had it’s artistic supporters, such as the concept album Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, although my blog will be more succinct, although maybe less enjoyable as well–lol!)
It’s seems logical, doesn’t it? I mean we’re taught from an early age to “learn from our mistakes”. We never question if there is such a thing as a “mistake”. What does “mistake” mean? By dictionary definition it means: “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.” The key word here is “error”. What does “error” mean, in the dictionary sense? “A deviation from accuracy or correctness; a mistake, as in action or speech: ‘His speech contained several factual errors.'”
So what is it that is shared by these two definitions? You can NEVER know if something was a “mistake” or an “error”! What seems like a mistake or an error in the moment can easily be shown later to have been the CORRECT choice! Example: my drinking like a fish throughout 2004 could easily have been seen as a “mistake” or an “error” in judgment. Just 4 years later, I would characterize it as a “blessing”, and the perfect choice to lead me, and several others in my life, by the way, into CLEARLY better lives! I got to work on myself for the first time, leading, through first A.A., and later, The Option Institute (www.option.org ), to a joyously free life and truly great loves that I believe I never would have found otherwise. It gave Cindy (my ex-wife) the opportunity to find someone who was a better fit for her and she has also used A.A. and OI to help her learn to build more and better relationships and gather tools to help her better handle the things life brings her way. Both of my kids have better relationships with both Cindy and I since that time.
What about what others do “to” us? This is the biggie. Especially in romantic relationships. And, again, the outcome seems logical. We get into a great relationship, put 100% of ourselves and our heart into it, and then BANG! We get dumped. We choose to feel devastated, heartbroken, in pain. And here’s where the kicker comes in. In order to prevent ourselves from feeling all that PAIN in the future, we build a “protective” wall. And the wall is that we decide not to go 100% into the relationship until the other one does. This is designed to PROTECT us from pain, but what it does instead is that it IMPRISONS us in mediocre relationships. Sure, doing this MIGHT prevent some pain if the relationship eventually ends, but it always means that every moment you are in the relationship, you lessen the level of JOY and LOVE you experience. With how spectacular my relationship with Karen was, after she broke up with me, certainly no one would have blamed me if I had chosen to go a little slower in the future to prevent myself from feeling devastated losing a relationship that great. But had I done that, I might have missed out on the relationship of my life–the one with Mary!!!
What about family or friend relationships? This works there too! When John died and I felt so sad, I could have decided not to have friends that close to me ever again so that, if they died, I wouldn’t feel that kind of pain again. The concept is the same: to protect me from SADNESS, I would have IMPRISONED myself in shallow friendships. And when my daughter had her times of considering suicide, I could have decided to spend a lot of time FEARING that she would do it. But every moment spent in fear was a moment when I was not actually with her, not loving her. And in losing those moments of being present and completely loving her, I STILL would never be able to control her actions anyway.
What about work? This concept absolutely applies here as well! When we start doing fear about losing our job, we do things to protect it: we worry in hopes that will motivate us to do better, we work harder and more hours, adding stress to our life, and TAKING AWAY time from the things we claim we truly want to do, like spend time with our loved ones, and we play the “cover your ass” game, only doing the status quo, playing “not to fail” rather than “to win”. In doing so, we come to see our jobs as something we hate, and a necessary evil, rather than a source of fun and creativity. By playing status quo, we stop taking chances and therefore may not find the innovations that could have ultimately saved not only our jobs, but also the company! In the end, what’s point in doing all this stress and fear to save a job you hate?
The answer is to let go of fear. (I know, I know, you hear this from me over and over–that’s because it’s THE KEY!) There are no such things as mistakes or errors. Only WE can make them that by choosing to see them that way. For EVERY SINGLE moment in my life that I thought of as a “mistake”, I can now look back and see how it in fact led me to something better! So why wait? Believe that there are no such things as mistakes, that each one that seems like it is in the moment will in fact simply be the first step to something better, and all of a sudden, your response to challenging moments will change from “why does this keep happening to me?” to “wow, I wonder what great stuff this means is coming my way!” It doesn’t mean the revelation will come right away, the key is knowing that it will come SOMETIME. It always does eventually!
Try it and see. The next time something happens that you think in the moment is a “mistake” or an “error”, decide to watch and see what happens as a result of that occurrance that leads to something better–whether it be a physical gain, like money, or an emotional one, like finding you are better able to handle things as a result of it. I guarantee you that once you start looking for the gain instead of the pain, your life will be easier to manage when challenges do come along! Tear down the walls you’ve built and welcome the world and it’s challenges without fear, and you will find the exact opposite of what you expect: more joy and more comfort!