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You Made A Mistake? Way To Go!

By Rosella Aranda

Mistakes have gotten a really bad rap. Whether you call it an error, a blunder, a screw-up, a faux pas, a gaffe or a boo-boo, no one wants to be guilty of committing one.

The fear of not performing "up to snuff" leads many people to procrastinate or even worse, never to act at all. For many, this has become a major debilitating problem.

Besides the obvious lack of productivity and the numerous aborted projects, this pathological postponement of duties leads to:

  • a guilty conscience

  • inability to enjoy our free time

  • harsh internal criticism

  • severe mental conflict

  • rationalization (that even we ourselves don't believe)

  • lowered self-esteem

Our list is hardly complete but it's already hideous enough.


Why does making a mistake seem like such a life and death situation for so many of us?

I believe it has to do with the fact that for many of us, doing things right, learning quickly, being a smart kid, was likely one of the major sources of appreciation or approval we ever got. It may have been the ONLY time we got noticed.

In fact, for those of us who were quick studies, the few times that we were not able to catch on with lightning speed caused us great discomfort, as if we were about to be robbed of our only source of approval, our one and only avenue of acceptance.

As children, although we may have been praised when we did something right, we were probably ignored, admonished or even ridiculed when we weren't able to perform so flawlessly. As young children, this type of reaction provided us a mirror or reflection of who we were based solely on our performance. It defined our value.

As adults, although we might realize intellectually that making a mistake is not a big deal, that it is a simply part of a learning process, we still have a tendency to respond from a deep emotional level that is no longer relevant.


We need to tell these invisible critics to shut up, please leave the room, take a flying leap, or whatever else occurs to us at the moment. We've allowed them to hang around for far too long.

Personally, I prefer the more courteous approach, but since no one is REALLY around to get their feelings hurt, you may wish to just tell these ghosts to get the hell out!

The crucial point is that you make your intention to banish these disembodied voices crystal clear to yourself. In actuality, you're the only one you have to reckon with here.


Several years ago, I bought myself a piano. This was a glorious treat for me. I was living in my own place, no family, no roomies, no boyfriends, nobody but me and my beloved piano. (And a couple of pussy cats but they didn't care how I played as long as I kept the food coming!)

Now I could play to my heart's content without any unwanted listeners lurking about. However, every time I sat down at the keyboard, the room "filled up" with this invisible audience, ghostly faces ready to wince at any sour note or fumbled chord.

I was playing for my ego, trying to win the approval of these phantom ears floating about my music room. And of course, the true music got lost in the deal.

Is this anything like what happens to you when you try something new? Are there invisible critics watching over your shoulder, interfering with your concentration?

It doesn't seem to matter what type of new activity we wish to undertake. It could be something as simple as learning a new software program or something as ambitious as tackling a bold new approach to earning a fabulous living. Is it possible that the actual goal has gotten lost in the melee of ego and the fear of not getting it right the first time?

Does the idea of not having a completed blueprint of your journey prevent you from taking the first step?


Here's a technique, seemingly simple and silly, but very effective just the same in combatting this tendency to stay stuck in our well-worn rut.

When you become aware of any mistake or misstep you have made, respond to it in this radically different way.

PRAISE yourself for discovering something that did not work. That's right, be glad! Acknowledge that you are now one step closer to finding the solution you are after. Yessss!

Now for the really important part. Be certain to acknowledge to yourself, preferably out loud, that by making the mistake at hand you did NOT suddenly become stupid, puny or otherwise diminished. Make note of the fact that you are every bit as solid a person as you were before the mistake, and that you are now a tad wiser besides. That's it. But do it.

The only way you'll ever learn to feel differently about yourself is to start feeling differently about yourself. You and only you control what you think. Think well of yourself.

About The Author
Rosella Aranda, international marketer and writer, helps entrepreneurs escape their limitations and get rid of self- defeating behaviors permanently. See her newest ebook and free mini-course at


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