Posts Tagged With: childhood disappointments

Day 318: Other people’s mistakes

I’ve written several times, this year, about perfectionism. (For example, herehere, and here.)

Nobody is perfect — including the writer and the readers of this post.  As humans, we all make mistakes, every day. (Probably, we all make mistakes every hour.)

I react differently to the Making of Mistakes, though, depending upon who is doing the mistake-making.

When I realize that I have made a mistake, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no!  I made a mistake!  I should have paid better attention. This is really going to be a problem for other people, too.  What’s the matter with me?

It’s a different story, though, when somebody else makes a mistake. Often, I forgive other people their mistakes.

It’s much easier to remember that everybody makes mistakes, when it’s everybody else.

However, when somebody makes a mistake that has a direct, negative impact on me,  that’s a different story, too.

Then, this is my usual response:

I feel awful.

Here are some typical, automatic thoughts I have:

Oh, no! This other person made a mistake!  And that really caused me some discomfort. What do I do now?  How do I tell them about it? They’ll probably think it’s MY fault, too!  How can I prove it’s NOT? Maybe it IS my fault, somehow! And what if it’s NOT my fault and they don’t own up to that? THEN what do I do?   Also, if I mattered and was important enough to them, they would have been more careful!  Now I’m angry!  NOW what do I do? If I express my anger, I’ll probably alienate them!  I don’t want to lose them!  But I don’t want to pretend that it’s all okay with me, either, because it’s NOT!

This is what I notice about THAT, now.

When somebody else makes a mistake, I tend to have MORE thoughts.

Why?

Well, I’m really used to my own mistakes. I KNOW (by living with myself) how imperfect I am: I’ve got lots of proof about that. At times in the past, I’ve thought of myself as a screw-up — somebody who constantly make mistakes.

So THAT’s familiar.

But, somehow, I’ve never gotten used to other people’s mistakes.

Why is that?

This is my best guess, right now: When I was a little kid, I needed important people — upon whom I depended —  to NOT make major mistakes.  (And they made mistakes, of course. They were human.)

I know I’m not alone, in that.

Here’s a personal example of that: I  needed the doctors keeping me alive —  through surgeries and new technologies — to NOT make major mistakes. Big time.

So, my wish —  even as an adult — is that people NOT make mistakes. But they do, of course, every day.

Also, if somebody makes a mistake that has a negative effect on me and doesn’t own it, I can feel some anger about that (naturally). And as I wrote, two days ago, I can be a little clueless about anger, once I have it.

So there you have it: My reactions to other people’s mistakes.

It’s easy for me to write this post today, dear readers, because somebody — whom I’ve yet to meet —  made a mistake last night which did have a negative impact on me.  At this writing, the person is not owning the mistake, which may or may not change.

This is what I’ve done, so far, this morning, to deal with this:

  1. I wrote an e-mail to the person, pointing out the facts.
  2. By focusing on the facts, I let go of any wish to affect the other person’s feelings about this in any way.
  3. I worked on this blog post.

All those things helped.

What’s missing, for me, right now?

A cool image, for this post!

My next step: consult my iPhone for recent photos.

Oh!  Here’s one:

Image

Recently, I saw this hand-written message on a sign, regarding a overdue repair to a machine.

So there you have it, my dear readers:  Another way to respond to other people’s mistakes.

Thanks to everybody who makes and responds to mistakes and to you — of course! — for visiting here today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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