Why mistakes continue to eat away at us

Why mistakes continue to eat away at us

Mistakes happen

Better yet, we do shitty things sometimes
We lie
We cheat
We steal
We insult
We hurt

We are not always “good”

And we know it.

We hold these deep concerning truths about ourselves within us and don’t let it out. We can’t let anyone see the “REAL” me! *gasp!!* If they only KNEW how horrible I REALLY am.

These concerns we hold within us, influence our behaviors and can often be maladaptive.

What do we do?

1. For one, we defend

“I am NOT a liar!!!!”

You tell the truth for the most part. But because that time you lied and regret it and feel remorse, it is resulting in you becoming overly defensive when you’re called out on your mistake or misjudgment.  This results in having increased arguments with your loved ones when our defenses are up, causing even more stress and difficulties.

2. We externalize

You may find a scapegoat to blame all your problems on in order to protect the ego from accepting the not-so-good thing that you did.  This results in having interpersonal disputes with others as you put up the wall and to make sure no one really finds out the horrible truth about you. You may become increasingly irritable and angry.

3. We get down on ourselves

After we make a mistake, the negative self talk starts going…. “I’m no good; I’m useless; I can’t do anything right; I’m a bad person; Why do people even like me? People don’t really like me, they just have pity on me….” and down into the rabbit hole you go as you fill your language with doubts, insults, and shoulds…..

4. We become controlling

We try to take control of everything (whether it is realistically in our control or not) in order to make sure we never make a mistake ever again.  This is a tall glass to order and only results in anxiety and irritability.  It puts strain on relationships and people probably don’t want to be around you.

Why friends are NOT good therapists when addressing mistakes

Scenario:

Person: I can’t believe I did (insert shameful action here)
I’m a really shitty person because I did (shameful action)

Friend: you are NOT a shitty person! How dare you say that about yourself. You are awesome and I love you. Please stop saying those things about yourself.

Person: Thanks Friend

Friend here in this scenario is a good friend and had a great response! It is unlikely the person is a “shitty person” and therefore the friend is correct. HOWEVER, the friend helped the person to continue to not accept the mistake and allowed it to pass. The person still continues to feel the shame buried deep within (triggering negative thoughts about self) and the action has not been accepted, the feelings haven’t been felt and the ego will continue to defend against attacks and look to friends (like in example above) for validation they are inherently good in order to drown out the bad voice from within. But this scenario won’t drown out the bad voice from within…. The problem continues….

I’m not saying not to gain support from friends.

FRIENDS ARE IMPORTANT!

What I’m saying is, it doesn’t identify the core of the issue.  So keep reaching out to your friends because that is great, but if your searching for significant change, you’ll need to do more.

Therapy is different

  • A therapist will call you out on your bullshit in a methodical, safe, and adaptive way. This facilitates change by challenging the ego defense system to calm down and allow it to come face to face with the emotion it is trying so hard to protect you from.
  • You learn all about your negative self-talk where to comes from and what to do about it.
  • You also learn about your tendencies to take control over anything and everything. You learn about the forces that are driving that behavior and how to work on letting go.
  • You learn to feel all the wonderful feelings and heal from the event so that you can move forward.
  • You will be able to accept the mistake and no longer defend against yourself, allowing you to experience improved relationships and stop yourself from engaging in repetitive, maladaptive behaviors.

What can I do NOW to help?

Outside of going to therapy, you can look at the list above and identify how you tend to react to making mistakes and recognize how you hold on to them and what that does to your psyche.  Awareness of the issue is key in resolving it.  So become more aware of your thoughts and tendencies and work toward avoiding those common pitfalls that people find themselves in!

  • Identify your negative scripts and challenge them
  • Practice meditation
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Use supports