Marking my son’s maths test this morning, I found myself assuring him, “It’s good for us to get things wrong sometimes.” As I encouraged him, I asked myself whether I really believed what I had just said. Do I live like I believe it’s OK to make mistakes?
When we smash a favourite piece of china we might kick ourselves – we’ve caused irreparable damage and our beloved mug or vase will never be the same again. But mistakes can be used to create something powerful, a truth we focus on at Peaced Together.
Lots of us want to achieve perfection and when we get things wrong we can feel like a failure. There are many forces in our society that cause us to think this way, but in some ways mistakes can actually be a gift. Here are a few reasons why making mistakes is good for us!
Mistakes build character and humility
When we get something wrong, it reminds us that we are all human. When we make a mistake, we often need to ask for help. Whether we just can’t fix that bike we’ve been working on for a week or need parenting advice, mistakes show us that we need each other.
If we have hurt someone we love with our mistakes, making it right can be tricky, but it is so important. As we understand our own need for forgiveness and acceptance, it makes us more able to offer it to others.
Mistakes make us empathetic
Ever judged someone for making an error? Maybe we are appalled when a friend says something mean to get a laugh. But when we make a similar slip of the tongue, we realise how easy it is to speak without thinking. Next time it happens to our friend, we will hopefully be more forgiving. Our own mistakes help us understand where others are coming from.
Mistakes allow us to make things better – and gain understanding
Mistakes can motivate us to reach our goals. As we identify what went wrong in area of life, we can start to think about how to make it better. I must have tried five different bread recipes recently, and the first four all produced inedible bricks! But the last one was delicious – light, airy and crusty on the outside. Each time a loaf went wrong, I did a bit more research and tried a new method – and I’m so glad I did! It’s not just about the result – I understand the process of breadmaking now, rather than just being able to follow a recipe. Whether it’s a practical skill or a relationship you are finding difficult, see mistakes as a chance to try a new approach next time.
Thanks to Covid-19 we are all living in a world full of new pressure – whether you’re a nurse working long hours in a busy A&E department or a parent trying to keep your children calm and content within the confines of your flat. This pressure will naturally result in us ‘getting it wrong’ in life at the moment! But take heart, every bad reaction or failure to get something done is an opportunity to grow and change.