I woke up early this morning, with the title of this post in my head.
And I understand why. Over the last couple of days, the few times I have felt bad, it’s been because I’ve believed that I have made …..
(Imagine very, very scary music here) (perhaps written by Bernard Hermann, John Williams, or another film composer who has written very, very scary music.)
And I thought it was interesting that this particular title came up for me, because here is the original quote:
Oh, death, where art thou sting?
which is apparently from the bible. (I looked it up.)
So it’s interesting to me that the original quote was about death.
Because THAT’S how scary it can feel to me, when I make a mistake.
I will try to make this blog post short (although, probably, not quite as short as yesterday’s post), because I would like to go back to sleep. I WILL try to complete it in about 30 minutes, no matter what the length.
I would just like to mention Two Dread Mistakes I’ve made in the last two days, at which I (literally) went cold, when I realized what I had done:
Dread Mistake # 1
The day I got back to work, one of the other social workers at the hospital, named Tom, wrote an e-mail to all the other therapists there, asking if people could recommend a psychiatrist for a patient of his to see. There was a typo in his e-mail, so instead of “I am seeking a psychiatrist for a woman,” he wrote, “I am seeing a psychiatrist for a woman.” And I got a kick out of that, and wrote him an e-mail back, pointing that out to him.
In that e-mail I wrote him, I also told him that I loved that typo, and it helped me, because I always felt bad after I had sent an e-mail and realized that I had made a typo. So I told him he had made my day. And when I sent my e-mail, I specifically made sure to send it only to him, rather than press “Reply All.” I didn’t want to point out his mistake to everybody — that seemed snarky and ungenerous. I just wanted to communicate with him about it.
So, later that day, my supervisor at work told me that she had received my e-mail, too. And I couldn’t believe it. I figured that mistake was due to (1) all my Windows programs at work being updated a few days before I left, which has been confusing the hell out of me and (2) the fact that I was soooo exhausted my first day back at work.
And I felt AWFUL. And I knew my feeling that way was all out of proportion to the Sin that I Had Committed (which was negligible). But I just … could … not … shake … that …. feeling. And I tried, really hard, because my supervisor told me this right before we started conducting an interview with an intern, who is going to work with me next year.
Before and after the interview, my supervisor helped me deal with my … shame, I guess, about this mistake. She knows me well enough to have seen me struggle with mistakes. And, we actually told the intern we were interviewing (who was great, by the way) about how I was worrying about this dopey mistake I had made, and how my supervisor and I — and other therapists in the department — were learning how to deal with our own perfectionism.
So, after the interview, my supervisor and I discussed how I could feel better about this mistake I had made, of broadcasting my reply to Tom’s e-mail to dozens of other people. I called Tom and left him a message, letting him know how I had accidentally pressed “Reply All.”
And, he wrote me a very gracious, sweet, and funny e-mail back, telling me he liked my e-mail, that a lot of people had pointed out his mistake to him, and that it was all fine.
Dread Mistake #2
Hey! This one relates to my blog post, from yesterday. I wrote that post at 7 PM last night, when I was tired and hungry. I almost titled it “The 30-minute Blog,” because I wanted to “get it over with” quickly, so I could go out to dinner.
And I DID write that post in about 30 minutes, and I felt a feeling of satisfaction about that. And I thought the post was fine. So I was really glad when I pressed the “publish” button.
Then, at dinner, I checked the post briefly and realized …
(more scary film music, perhaps Bernard Hermann again, with shrieking violins, like from “Psycho”)
… that the post hadn’t really published, even though I had gotten the “You Published 43 Posts” message back from WordPress.
This has happened to me before. I think if I have two windows open while I’m writing, and I publish the post from the second window I’ve opened, it doesn’t work. Instead, it saves the draft.
So I KNEW that all I needed to do was to republish the post from the saved draft, when I got home. But I HATED that I had screwed up (with a computer, again! just like with Dread Mistake #1). I pictured people who follow my blog getting an e-mail (or seeing the post published on my Facebook page), clicking the link, and then receiving an error message about an empty post ( like what I saw when I checked at dinner).
And, again, I worked hard at letting go of the bad feeling, recognizing — rationally — that I was over-reacting. I realized that, honestly, who would care? This was no big deal and quite fixable, within an hour or so.
So, there are my confessions, about my two dread mistakes.
And I’m letting go of shame, right now, about how I can get so upset about such trivial mistakes.
And I’m working on this, dear reader, throughout this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally. I’m working on this, really hard.
And I’m definitely making progress.
You know, I wrote a chapter about Mistakes in the book I’m working on. (Possible title of that chapter: “Mistakes Won’t Kill You.”) And I talk to people about mistakes, in my work, a lot. And I know I’m not alone in beating myself up about mistakes.
I know I’ve written about mistakes in earlier blog posts here, but you know what? I’m not going to look at my past blog posts right now and provide some links.
This post doesn’t need to be perfect.
And neither do I.
And neither do you, dear reader.
Done! Back to sleep.