Learning From Mistakes

No. 27 - 12th February 2017

If you’ve ever been to WH Smiths on the High Street, you’ll know that the right hand door is level with the street, and because it’s on a hill, there’s a step up to the left hand door. I tend to use the right door because my wife’s in a wheelchair. Well, one day, I was on my own and it was raining hard. I let my umbrella down as I turned into the left hand door and forgot about the step. I tripped over it, went crashing through the swing doors and staggered into the shop. Everyone at the checkout swung round as though someone had just been shot. I felt rather silly, as you do, and tried to look as normal as possible while I did my shopping. Then having paid the bill, I went out the same door, and as I was putting up my umbrella, I stepped out into the street, only the street wasn’t where I expected it to be. I had forgotten about that stupid step again. When I finally reached the ground, My knee buckled and I went flying across the pavement, scattering pedestrians in every direction.

We all make mistakes, but what’s really sad, is when we don’t learn from them. Mistakes are OK. In fact that’s often where we learn some of life’s greatest lessons. The problem comes when we can’t admit to having made a mistake. For some people I guess it’s pride and they can talk their way out of anything rather than say ‘I got it wrong’. That can be really unattractive, and worse still, they’re doomed to make the same mistake over and over again. But, you know, sometimes it’s the opposite. I knew someone who had such a poor image of them self, they felt that admitting to any mistake would make me think even less of them, and that’s sad. It takes real strength to say “I got it wrong,” and I’m full of admiration for those who do.

Being able to admit to our mistakes is the beginning of healing. I’m not talking about tripping over a step. I mean the big mistakes, especially the ones that hurt other people. If we can’t admit to them, then we’re building a barrier around ourselves that puts other people in the wrong and destroys a little part of them, just so that I can hang onto my own self image. It actually does just the opposite, if only we knew it.

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