One of the biggest obstacles my clients must learn to overcome is self-judgment.
This is how self-judgment works: When something doesn’t go your way, you take it as a condemnation of yourself. As if no external factors exist.
‘Mistakes’ happens when something you are not aware of or cannot see collides with your assumptions. When our assumptions get busted, we learn… but only if we accept the outcome of our mistakes in the spirit of experimentation.
If we can separate from our mistakes in this way, mistakes become informative and productive.
Mistakes are never the revelation of inherent inadequacy.
In other words, as a coach of mine used to put it, when you know better, you do better. We do better by learning, which, at some point, entails taking whatever knowledge you have out for a test drive.
If you’re someone like me, who grew up in a controlling, hyper-critical environment, making a mistake of any kind is the occasion for shame.
Shame is the number one way people avoid doing what it takes to fulfill their dreams.
Shame controls us. Many of us have internalized it so deeply that we use it to control ourselves.
So what elicits shame?
I would venture to say that to judge someone negatively to their face or through gossip is to shame them. And we do it to ourselves all the time by viewing our mistakes as proof of unworthiness.
Once my clients realize this, they get faster and faster at dropping self-judgment and more and more comfortable making mistakes.
And guess what? Their lives change in ways they could not have imagined… for the better.
My call to action in this regard is this: Stop being a shamer.
First, catch yourself when shaming other people. It then will follow that you start noticing when you shame yourself on the occasion of your next inevitable, enlightening mistake.