4 Mistake Mantras for the Next Time You Mess Up
August 9, 2019
I'm such a screw-up.
I can't believe I did that.
How am I going to recover?
These aren't exactly friendly, huggable mantras, are they?
And yet they're exactly the kind of things we say to ourselves when we're facing a new problem, crisis, or mistake. Your usual tendency might be to put yourself down, place blame or, worse, become completely stalled because you don't see a way out or forward.
While that's perfectly natural, there is another way to react when you make a mistake—whether it's big or small—and it involves reframing the conversation you have with yourself.
Instead of "oh nos," try out one of these new mistake mantras to help you calm your mind and move forward from that misstep.
'One mistake is a hiccup—and I can find a cure.'
It's so easy to start spiraling after one little hiccup. (Anyone who's overslept their alarm and immediately woken up in a panic, and let that panic carry through the rest of their already "bad" day, can relate.)
But instead: What if we treated each minor disturbance as, well, a hiccup? Hiccups don't last forever. They're annoying for a few minutes and can take up all your brainpower as you try to get rid of them—but rarely (if ever) are they a long-term nightmare.
Treat your mistake like a case of the hiccups that you can cure. Come up with a contingency plan; what can you do immediately right now to help ease them and get you back on track?
Just like you might grab pickle juice or try to hold your breath when you're hiccupping from your belly, you can come up with plenty of creative options to fix whatever problem you're facing right now.
Repeat this mantra—"One mistake is a hiccup—and I can find a cure"—and make a list of all the ways you can attack your issue.
Soon enough, you'll find yourself breathing easier.
'I won't let a mistake define my day—or my life.'
When you were in school, if you got a bad grade on a test, did you immediately tell yourself, "Well, I don't know anything at all"? Probably not—you most likely recognized that it was a particularly challenging assignment, or that you could have studied harder, or that you knew the right answer but you second-guessed yourself.
You didn't let one mistake define your entire semester, right? So why should one mistake be a stamp of disapproval on your entire life?
It's more helpful to examine the causes of the mistake—were you too stressed or forgetful in the moment? How can you alter your approach in the future? Did second-guessing yourself lead to this mistake?
Analyze why and you'll move away from blaming yourself.
'People still love me, and I still love myself.'
(cue sappy music)
OK, at first when I wrote this I cringed a little bit. But look…it's true, isn't it?
One mistake won't ruin every relationship you've ever had. It's important to recall all the things that are working right in your life, including all your friendships and relationships.
Here's one activity: Make a list of everyone in your life who supports you. Think long and hard, and even add those folks who you might not have talked to recently, but who helped you at one point in your life.
You can add all the people you don't know you IRL but who support you in your efforts (yes, motivational influencers and Shine writers count!). All of these people combine to form an incredible support system that would never be turned off by your one mistake.
A bonus step would be to reach out to someone in your life to seek guidance about your mistake, or simply share with them what went wrong.
And don't forget the most important relationship of all: the one you have with yourself.
Repeating that you still love and admire yourself—even if it feels like the furthest impulse from your mind—can lay a foundation for you to start to forgive.
'I've gotten through tough situations before, and I will again.'
Finally, it's important to remember that…you've already been there!
Even if it isn't the exact same situation with the exact same details, you have likely already been through a similar experience (which you might have blocked out of your mind).
But recalling your moments of strength and fortitude in the past can give you energy and a needed dose of reality. Life is long, yet our memories can be very short.
Can you think of another storm that you weathered? What are some lessons you learned that might be applicable to your current mistake?
Because that's the truth: You have survived a lot—100% of your worst days, to be exact. You can survive this mistake, too.
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