Learning from Mistakes

I was petrified of making a mistake when I was younger. The stakes were high. If I fell and tore my pants, I’d have to hear it from my parents, especially if they were new. If I dropped a glass of milk, I’d hear about the precious glass and be chastised for wasting milk. I remember the time I dropped my double ice cream cone! Boy was I horrified. And that look on my father’s face! It fell to the ground two seconds after he had paid for it! Mistakes are hard to recover from when you come from poverty consciousness. You get one chance and one chance only so don’t mess it up. And if you repeat the same mistake more than once– all hell breaks loose. What the hell is wrong with you? How many times have I told you…?

On the other hand, coming from abundance may translate into more freedom and flexibility. Poverty inhibits and constrains. Abundance provides you with a cushion, a sense of security. When you have the resources to fix a problem, there’s much less danger and risk involved in your energy.

That’s not to say people with money don’t consider risk because they do. It’s just the energy frequency is different. When I say energy frequency, I mean, your mindset and your emotional stance, in other words– your inner state of being. When we speak of emotions we might experience more anxiety, fear and impatience with a poverty consciousness and more curiosity, excitement and patience with a consciousness that was cultivated in freedom and flexibility. Sometimes, we get caught off guard because our frequency is working silently behind the scenes.

When you’re born into an environment where you experienced lack of love or financial security, it’s more likely that you’ll experience anxiety, fear and impatience when trying something new in spite of your current circumstances because we remember what it’s like to make mistakes when we were young and impressionable. No one wants to feel shame and so we do what we do to avoid pain. We may act compulsively, deny ourselves opportunities or remain stuck in a unexciting routine.

How can we learn from our mistakes and cultivate a life based on growth and possibility?

Clear space by acknowledging when you were burnt before and forgiving yourself for it

Think about how you felt when you made a big mistake in your life. What happened and who was involved? Who’s fault was it? Consider whether you took and continue to take full responsibility for the event… and if you judge yourself too harshly. Tell someone you trust the story and ask them to listen with compassion. Alternatively, journal out the happening. Frequently, when we take the time to relive an event with care and attention, we discover that the mistake we made was rooted in our basic human need to be seen, loved and accepted rather than a defect in our nature. Often, we bury stories in judgment statements that block us from experiencing the truth behind our pain.

Here are a list of judgement statements we often use to punish ourselves for past mistakes which keeps us in a fixed “there’s something inherently wrong with me” mindset and next to them, I offer alternative statements that respond to the fundamental goodness in ourselves.

When we speak to our goodness, we are treating ourselves with compassion and dignity. We restore our natural proclivity for curiosity, excitement and flexibility.

Punitive/ Fixed-MindsetRestorative/ Growth Mindset
I was stupidI was inexperienced and trusting
I was lazyI thought if I tried I would not be successful
I was a jerkI was protecting myself
I was angryI felt frustrated and powerless
I was greedyI worried I wouldn’t have enough to survive
I was unfaithfulI felt neglected and unloved
I was pridefulI felt insecure and lacked confidence
I was meanI didn’t express myself carefully
I was irresponsibleI felt overburdened
I sucked at itI needed more practice
I failedI still hadn’t mastered that skill yet
I was carelessI was preoccupied
I was impatientI didn’t want to be disappointed

Selfish or Selflessness?

“We can work with the rest of the world on the basis of the goodness we discover in ourselves.”

Chögyam Trungpa

Today, I want to talk briefly about individualism or self-love and how we approach loving other human beings. It appears to me when I observe my own life and the life of others, especially that of my husband and brother who died young and who were both kind and loving men— that there is some confusion and pain associated with the practice of self-love and loving others deeply and honestly.

First, I want to clarify that selflessness does not mean self-sacrifice. This is important because we often perceive the world without paying attention to language but language is a tool we can use prior to meditation in order to investigate and synchronize our thoughts towards awareness and right action.

Selflessness is a natural outpouring of love and concern for other human beings. It is a profound concern for others that expresses itself through honesty, compassion and generosity.

If we are not paying attention to our Self, then we are not loving in so far we recognize that love is always sustained attention and care in mutuality.

On the surface, self-sacrifice is a very noble deed, however illusionary and life threatening.

All loving behavior emanates from a healthy, sane and balanced mind-body. Love is simply an outpouring of our own light energy which feels safe, selfless, free and healing.

When we give ourselves over to others without paying attention to the quality of our light, we encounter confusion, pain and dis-ease.

Today, I invite you to think about your practice of self-love and loving, the quality of your light energy and synchronicity. Consider any limiting beliefs about loving yourself and loving others that you may have inherited from your upbringing or society.

I also invite you to look at the Pathway to Transcendence diagram from my book Mindful Practice so you can pay attention to key elements of your experience as you continue your investigation into healthy living.

It’s Time

Breathe in this forced pause. Breathe out the smell of death, grief and sunken family. Look around and see it’s so much less but more. Feel the hot turmoil under your skin.

Think, my brother died and say aloud, “Again.”

Such great tenderness unveiled in moments. A rush of love begins.

“You’re hurting me,” I say.

“I’m loving you.”

“But, is that the same thing?”

Everything happens in an instant. It is a black flower that blooms and roots in our heart. Some of us hold our breath while we wait. Someone chants in the corner. What are we waiting for? For tomorrow…a new dream… an awakening.

“I don’t want to be here,” I say.

“And yet, here you are.”

“What shall I do with this tragedy?”

“Love. Love hard and love living.”

I watch my family in motion. There’s a huddle and we’re a team. Someone is folding sheets. Another is shifting furniture and making space for Death to arrive and it’s strange really because we know that this guest will not stay long. They will leave us with another hole.

Things mesh and blend, emotions and exhaustion flutter. We find laughter beyond our control. All we can think is—It is time.

“Time for what exactly?”

“Time to come together.”

“Or fall apart,” I say.

My birthday card reads: “It’s time for joy.” I’m reading this while letting go of my brother’s hand and replacing it with someone else’s hand. It’s a warm, loving hand so I don’t fall. But, then in this hand I’m falling into somewhere else.

“I’m scared,” I say.

“I got you,” he says.

“Do you really?”

In that exchange, there’s a glimpse of happiness.

Maybe it’s a preview of what’s to come.