Fear of Mistakes*
I have another confession to make…
Deep down I’m petrified!
Of getting it WRONG!
Am I alone in this fear? … I doubt it.
This has been a fear all of my life, although I am only just recently beginning to accept and understand it on a new level. I can get quite defensive if I am accused of doing something wrong, especially when I know I tried my best and someone else assumes I didn’t. I take it as a personal attack, an accusation that I didn’t care enough to try.
This is not to say that I won’t admit when I am wrong, if I see my error first I will be the first to announce it, in fact I run to apologise and correct my err. If I have ever consciously chosen to do the wrong thing I expect to feel remorse and will take my punishment on the chin.
My fear is more that I will be deemed unworthy because of my short-comings, shamed to the point of rejection, rejected to the point of depression. It is those times that come unexpected, those left field errors, the times you thought you got it right and it turns out you got it WRONG! When you realise you have been deceived, by yourself, or by your inner enemies. Times like these I feel the colour drain from my face, my stomach does a flip and heat rises up my neck like a flame, covering my face in beads of sweat. My mind becomes a chaos of thoughts of shame and self-condemnation, justifications and desperation. In some cases tears well in my eyes.
As I mentioned in my last post, somewhere along the road of life I have subconsciously attached being ‘Right’ with being ‘Happy’, and therefore if I am wrong I am doomed to be ashamed and unhappy. Yet most of us understand we must make mistakes in order to learn. I love to learn so I should love making mistakes. Right? Wrong again!
As I’ve gotten older I have made many efforts to tackle this fear, after my car accident I suffered tremendous attacks of anxiety which made my ability to concentrate extremely difficult, if not impossible. I spent 3 years after my car accident, off work and in therapy, trying to recover both physically and mentally. I felt useless, I couldn’t imagine how I could be of any use to an employer or to my family. I needed quite a bit of rehabilitation to help me feel capable of working again, anxiety had me in it’s tight grip and I was sure my constant lack of concentration and focus would cause me to be punished and looked down on, viewed as worthless and perhaps even fired. I couldn’t bare the thought of letting people down, especially not an employer or a loved one.
Therapy and working since then has helped me accept that we all make mistakes, human errors are unavoidable, I needed to learn to give myself a break.
My first job after the accident was with my best friend, she was extremely understanding and supportive. The boss of our department did me the world of good, He never punished his staff for making mistakes, he never made us feel like we had let him down if we didn’t reach perfection, in fact the opposite. He made fun of us in a joking, sarcastic manner, like a friend would, and always took our side against cranky customers. He made us feel we were good enough, even if we had done nothing but make mistakes all day. Lets face it, we have all had days like that..Haven’t we?
My recent breakthrough in therapy, made me aware that I allow this fear to infiltrate my parenting techniques, and I have been making every attempt to undo some of the damage this may have had on my children. It is not easy, I am still afraid, I wonder if I will ever be able to let these attacks slide off my back like water off a duck. (There are some great tips in this post how to prevent a cycle of this fear passing onto our children, also Brené Brown has done some amazing research in this area.)
I thank God so much for the realisation of this deep fear, because it is only when we accept something that we can begin to change it, we can place our fears in His capable hands. Our children deserve to feel good enough even when they make mistakes. We deserve to feel good enough even when we are wrong. Yeshua/Jesus would not have needed to come and suffer such a horrendous ordeal if we were capable of being perfect on our own. Our true happiness doesn’t come from getting it right all the time, it comes from knowing we are always worthy to Him, that He will never reject us, and that we will always be loved by Him.