I made a mistake recently. One I really beat myself up for.
After all, making mistakes is something perfectionists tend to deeply fear. Mistakes expose us as being imperfect. They plunge us into feelings of shame and cycles of “should haves.” They cause us to feel afraid to try again.
When I made a big, public mistake recently, I felt all of these things. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m not immune to falling back into these patterns from time to time.
But unlike past mistakes, I had a set of tools to deploy that helped me quickly recover.
In the moment, my brain tried to convince me that all of the good work I had done was now erased by this one, imperfect moment. But I named this mistruth for what it was, recognizing my all-or-nothing perspective was distorting the objective facts.
I let myself feel the shame and embarrassment that accompanied the mistake, not trying to fight those feelings, knowing they would pass. Accepting the emotional experience in this way made it feel manageable and temporary, helping me build resilience for future setbacks and reminding me that mistakes need not be avoided at all costs.
And as those feelings subsided, I pushed myself to find meaning in the experience, recognizing how much I had learned from it – that I had taken a giant leap forward in my own growth as a recovering perfectionist.
In other words, I did three things:
→ Mindfully observed my thoughts
→ Accepted my feelings as natural
→ Pushed to find meaning
And now? I’m glad to have made the mistake. I’m better off for it, more prepared for the inevitable setbacks that will happen again in the future, ready to take on the challenges that may involve some failure along the way.
This is an approach I help others learn as part of our Beyond Perfect signature training, one that requires practice, but can yield life-changing dividends. I’d love to have you join our inspiring group of women and experience for yourself the power that comes with no longer living in fear of making mistakes.