The fear of making mistakes develops as we grow and perceive other people’s reactions to our mistakes. When we experience other people responding negatively to our mistakes, we learn to think of mistakes as something bad. However, contrary to popular belief, making mistakes can be good.
How else would you learn without messing up? Think about when you learned to walk for the first time. You were bad at it, as was I, as was everyone in the world. Even after we tried walking for the twentieth time, we were still not very good at it.
Can you imagine if babies were afraid of making mistakes? No one would ever learn to walk. No one would ever learn to tie shoelaces. No one would ever learn to read or write. So think of making mistakes as a learning experience. Making mistakes is also part of the human condition. To be imperfect is to be human, and we can’t expect any more than that.
As a little boy, my parents often warned me against making mistakes. They believed that as long as I did things slowly and carefully, and learned from other people’s errors, there was no need for mistakes to be made. So, whenever I messed up, I was often rebuked for not being careful enough, for not thinking things through, or for not listening closely enough when I was told about other people’s mistakes.
I lived my life like I was walking on eggs, afraid of breaking them. I was afraid of making even the tiniest mistake, and struggled for perfection.
As a young adult, I came to realize that I couldn’t hold onto the ideal of perfection any longer. For one thing, I can never be perfect! No one can.trying to avoid mistakes was limiting, because in order to do so I was avoiding trying new and different things.
Today’s teens need to break free from the fear of making mistakes. Do not live in fear of being criticized, by parents or people in general and stop associating making mistakes with being judged, rejected, and ridiculed. Everyone makes mistakes at something in life, great or small, at least once but most likely many or even countless times.
Lastly, when you make a mistake, be kind to yourself. You may experience the tendency to beat yourself up after you have made a mistake. You tell yourself you are an idiot, you convince yourself that you have let all of your friends and family down, you torture yourself with guilt, and you think repeatedly about how you screwed up. When you find yourself doing this, interrupt the process by reminding yourself that you have just had an opportunity to learn something.
We all learn from our mistakes; the important thing to do is not to make the same mistake again.