1.2 Nobody Is Out to Get You
I detest making mistakes. There is always something that I missed, did not see, or did not know. My mind goes into overdrive – if I only knew! Or if people had posted proper signs. Or communicated better. I feel embattled and bitter. I have an overwhelming urge to explain myself to those who witnessed my mistake, to show them that I had reasons for it, that it was someone else’s fault. Friends and family tell me to relax, to let go. They assure me that it is not a big deal, but my mind continues with the negative self-talk until I tire of it.
I see this happening with my students as well. They make mistakes and then come to my office hours to battle. Some aim inwardly, berating themselves. They set unrealistic standards and then suffer when they don’t meet them, spending mental energy oscillating between self-criticism and justification. Other students direct their defensiveness outwards by arguing with me, lashing out at what I did wrong.
I usually start with compassion in those meetings. After all, I know how it feels to make a silly mistake that you feel could have been prevented. Been there, done that! But as they go on and on, exasperation settles in. I feel exhausted. If we could only move on to correcting the mistakes! Who cares what, when, and how it happened? Lingering in grievances compounds the problem. I am not here to judge you, and so there is no need for you to do it, either.
Is that how people feel around me when I want to discuss my mistakes constantly? Why is it so easy to see it when others do it? And more importantly, why is it difficult to let go, to move on, to learn?
You thought you did something wrong, and now you are justifying it. But you did not! Look at your defensive students. They are so busy explaining and defending they miss that they did nothing wrong. You are seeing it in them because you have it inside you. They are there to show you. If you wish to help them, help yourself. Search inside and find the things that you continue to feel the need to justify. Your students reflect the lessons you are presented with to learn. Everything outside is an image of something inside. Just ask what it is, and you’ll know. Then, work on it.
Forgive yourself for what you think you did. Move on. Lingering in guilt is what compounds the problem. If you are not judged by others, why do it to yourself? No need to preempt. Accept yourself and stop with the constant self-flagellation. Accept yourself as you have always been – light and love and joy and beauty. None of what you imagined ever took place. You are safe. Infinite Love does not judge. It accepts all and patiently waits for you to change your mind. If you choose to wait, it is because you decided so and not because your Father banished you.
There will be inevitable mistakes along your path. You are still struggling with the acceptance of this fact. It is all right to make mistakes. Call them errors. In science, you go by trial and error. You don’t beat yourself over your errors. You learn from them, then make corrections, and continue the tweaking of the process. Be the scientist in your life. You are to apply the scientific approach to creative work and find joy in the process. Enjoy the tinkering. Enjoy the trial and error, and the humor of it. Be the one to do so and tell the world.
What to do
Invite others to laugh with you. When you laugh at yourself, you take the power away from those who would laugh at you. This is what it means to lower your defenses. You say, yes, have at it, nothing of that really matters much. So why not have some fun, even at my expense? I’m not this being that you laugh at. I’m much, much more. And you begin to identify yourself with your true essence. It will not matter if someone laughs at the little persona you play at the moment in the comedy of life. Be the fool, the comic relief, the silly character who tells truth to power and makes everyone laugh. We are all fools in this cosmic play. We became the fool the moment we believed we could ever separate from God.
My teaching improved tremendously when I started acknowledging my mistakes openly. The pressure to appear correct for everything and all the time was gone. When I first started my videos on YouTube, one student admitted that he preferred to come to class and watch me lecture. “But why?” I asked, “in class, I make mistakes and mispronounce words. I even say wrong things. On the other hand, the information in the videos is all carefully curated and perfect.”
He liked when I made mistakes, he told me. It made the experience genuine, personal, relatable. He enjoyed watching me recover and consequently learned from the experience. Who would have thought about that?
The accent doesn’t matter
But the speech does.
Clean up the speech.
Correct the tone.
With the right tone,
You can say anything
A useful skill.
And good for you!
It does not increase guilt.
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