Do You Ruminate on Mistakes or Learn from Them?
Many of you may know that I (Donna) am a baseball fan. I grew up playing softball, the only sport available to girls in our small Missouri town when I was growing up. I continue to enjoy the finer points of the game.
Last week I watched a relief pitcher on my favorite team, come in and pitch in the ninth inning. Our team was up by one run. With one fast ball, he gave up a two-run homerun and lost the game for his team. I felt bad for him and later wondered if he got any sleep that night. “Probably lying awake worried about that homerun,” I thought.
The next morning, I read his quote in the newspaper: “It was just one pitch,” he said of the homerun. “It’s going to happen. I got over it right away. I think that’s something that comes with experience.”
His healthy approach got me thinking about how important it is to let go of mistakes. Baseball players with a .300 batting average are considered excellent hitters. That means they fail over two-thirds of the time!
Are you that resilient — ready for another challenge after a mistake, or do you ruminate on your missteps?
Learning to allow your best self—what we call your Creator essence in the TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®—to emerge requires that you have a healthy amount of ambition and drive. You want to succeed, which means you must take risks and try new approaches. When you take more risks, there’s fertile ground for more miscues.
Ruminating on the mistake causes you to relive the episode over and over and, in doing so, reinforces the stress associated with the mistake. This is your “inner-Persecutor” criticizing you for what happened. The Persecutor, one of the three roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), is the aspect of your reacting ego that wants to be right and in control. When this happens, it may cause you to be less than honest about your mistakes and prevent you from learning from them.
There’s a much healthier way to approach mistakes. You can learn to reflect on the situation, identify and describe the good, and adjust for your “next pitch.” The pitcher did an amazing job of “describing the good.” Even in the face of the home run and lost game, he described how the experience helps him be a better pitcher.
It is essential to admit a mistake. If not, rejection of reality may cause a repression of negative emotions that will emerge at another time. Repression or denying the truth of the mistake prevents growth, while admitting to the mistake allows you to open yourself to new learning.
Try these strategies to support your learning when mistakes occur and avoid the toxic game of endlessly mulling over details:
- Use a journal to reflect on the situation. Describe the good more than emphasizing what went wrong.
- Find a good friend or confidante and describe the situation. During the conversation uses phrases like: “Now I see that I could have…..” or “I understand that I…”
- Avoid associating with people who want to gossip about mistakes and continue to talk about the gory details.
- Take forward action. Do something, just one baby step, to move forward and help regain positive momentum.
There’s a Chinese saying about a seeker who climbs a very high mountain to ask a wise man about the meaning of life.
What is the most important aspect of one’s life, wise man?
How do you get experience?
How do you get good judgment?
Take a tip from the pitcher’s playbook and allow your mistakes to support your Creator essence.