How to get over embarrasing mistakesJul 03, 2022
How to get over embarrassing mistakes
My most embarrassing moment was when I presented to the local chapter of the American Chemistry Society. I spoke about resume writing and translating clinical lab skills into a language that hiring managers and HR can understand. I was afraid. I felt sick to my stomach, and my mind kept going blank. I had practiced, so I knew the material inside and out. What happens next is comical…literally. I got the giggles. My nervousness came out as giggling and then full-on laughing to the point that tears were coming from my eyes. So here I was in front of 100-200 people, chemists in various forms, and I was laughing uncontrollably. I could not stop. I did my best, but the bewildered looks on everyone's faces as to why I was laughing so hard about resumes imprinted in my mind forever.
While intellectually, I knew everyone made mistakes, my perfectionism and inner criticism were running wild then. My insides were screaming at me that I looked foolish, didn't deserve the job, and would never recover from this embarrassment. After the presentation, as I mingled with the attendees, I smiled, shrugged, and kept going while my voice quivered a bit but inside, I was a complete mess. And while everyone else in that room most likely has no memory of that day, 20+ years later, I can still remember it. I assumed the worst, and my mind held onto that memory to try and protect me from ever having to feel that pain again. So I shrunk down, avoiding mistakes which also meant I stopped taking risks, trying new things, and just plain old enjoying life. I did not continue with any form of public speaking for a long time.
My fear of mistakes lasted until I made three significant shifts along my journey. These three shifts in my thinking radically changed my relationships with mistakes. First, it broke the pattern my mind created by linking similar experiences, proving my inner critic right. But it all changed once I recognized my power in my thoughts and let go of the belief that I needed to worry about what other people thought of me. I began to live more authentically. I lived by what mattered most to myself and gave myself self-compassion and understanding.
Here are the three shifts I made that you can use too.
- Turn your focus back to your core values.
As a coach, I bring up values work frequently. The reason being is that values are our foundation for decisions. Value is so personal, and they help us do challenging things. So if you ask yourself..
But is this in alignment with your values?
How important is it for you to be thought of well by others?
If you make a mistake, is it more critical for you to do things perfectly or grow and learn?
When you reflect on what matters most, you can put a blunder into perspective.
- Remember that you are the only one in charge of how you feel.
When we base our feelings on other people's opinions, we give up ownership of our emotions. We're allowing other people to be our puppeteers, and when they pull the strings just right, we either feel good or bad. So a simple action of someone not saying hello as we pass them morphs to mean that we aren't good enough, smart enough, or cool enough when it might just mean that the person was distracted by their thoughts.
Our thoughts lead to emotions. Suppose you practice stopping even for a few seconds before concluding. In that case, you can introduce a different idea than one that allows your feelings to be dictated by others' opinions.
- Accept you did your best.
I used to feel I could do better. It's probably true that I could do more or better, but at what cost? Doing your best can honor your energetic capacity rather than pushing to exhaustion to do more.
Doing your best does NOT mean doing things poorly. This message comes from the society around us that overworking and busyness are signs of status, and success often gets interpreted that doing your best while setting boundaries and taking care of yourself means you aren't working as hard as you should. So accepting your best is redefining the type of work and contribution you are putting out, which can be so freeing.
The question you might be having is 'now what?' What should I do next? Although these mindset shifts sound great, they also seem complicated and overwhelming.
You have three options:
- Do nothing and continue the status quo.
- DIY it and commit to trying one of the suggestions in this BLOG. Implement anything, create a mantra, Find an accountability buddy, and Grab my Portable Peace course for podcast-style support.
- Cut to the front of the line with a fast pass and work with a coach. A coach takes processes that took years to complete and puts them into step-by-step strategies so you can jump ahead without going on the same long winding path. In addition, most coaches offer free consultations or other material to help you get started. I am offering free Masterclass Training to help people jumpstart mindset shifts.
So which option will you choose to shift your mindset and no longer fear mistakes but embrace doing your best?
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