The mistakes you make don’t need to define who you are.
In a perfect world, it’d be easy to untangle our mistakes from our personal identities, but in reality, it’s rarely a simple task. Everyone’s life is riddled with errors of judgement, but it’s crucial that you don’t let mistakes define your life or erode your self-confidence. Every misstep can become a teachable moment if you approach it with the right intentions: namely, forgiving yourself and looking for ways to understand those whom you may have offended or disappointed.
Don’t let your mistakes define you
It’s important to understand the difference between behavior and identity. Though they are, in many ways, inherently linked, one is not always a symptom of the other. The relationship between behavior and identity is something of its own field of study, with religious sects debating whether it’s even possible to separate the sin from the sinner, and scholars who’ve studied the relationship between one’s articulated sense of self and behavioral quirks since the 1930s.
However, just as people can find success within their failures, it’s also true that learning from one’s mistakes—or at least realizing it when you’re at fault—helps endear you to others.
Admitting fault “sets a model for what you would like your partner or coworkers to do,” Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist and author of Sacred Baths and host of The Love Psychologist podcast tells Lifehacker. “It makes you accountable and trustworthy … if you create a safe space to be honest about your mistakes, then hopefully others feel comfortable doing so too.”
Obviously, this is easier said than done. Admitting fault, for many people, especially those who are typically hard on themselves, is an affront to their personal identity. In clinical circles, it’s a concept known as “cognitive dissonance.” The social psychologist Carol Tavris explained how it works to the New York Times in 2017, saying:
Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true.
When your idea of self is seemingly torn apart by someone close to you, it can feel devastating. But that’s rarely, if ever, the intention of the person affected by your mistake.
Original publication 9 June, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 17th June 2021
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