Work it In or Let it Go
When my daughter the artist was little, she drew and colored every day. Sometimes she'd make a mistake and there was a short season when they would throw her into a fit and she'd tear up her picture or scribble all over it, so frustrated.
Knowing intuitively that this thought pattern of coping with mistakes could not be allowed to grow into a habit, I took hold of her hand one day and stopped her from scribbling. She stared at me and cried.
"You made a mistake," I said. "You feel frustrated and angry with yourself for that. But you can work it in, sweet girl. See..."
I showed her how to make a flower out of the scribble. She didn't like it, but at least she understood what I was talking about. Then, for the next few days and perhaps even weeks, every time I saw her struggling with getting the ideas out of her mind onto the paper, I'd remind her,
"Work it in, babe. Just work it in."
Today I found out that I've made a big mistake. Some food products from our garden products got stored in the wrong way and their chemical structure changed by the elements.They're not good. Ugh--I'm so mad at myself! All of that time and energy and money to get them the way I wanted them, down the drain.
I have a choice. I can be angry at myself all day and fortify mental habits of self-disappointment and end up undermining my self-esteem and ultimately my confidence OR I can accept what's happened and work it in.
You know, I'm choosing to do the creative thing. The self-recrimination way leads to a spiral that dead ends, but the way of acceptance leads to next steps and open possibilities.
Most everything can be worked into the grand design. Nothing is permanent--everything is fluid and changing, ever-moving. Perfection is impossible. Ideals are good to shoot for, but sometimes the reality of life and choices and mistakes happen and those ideals do not materialize. That's life.
To thrive and grow in positive ways, train your brain to adapt and overcome. Start with acceptance of your mistake; continue with creativity as you let it go. This is healthy and wise and good to do whether you're six, sixteen or sixty years old.
How do you usually handle mistakes of your own and others? What's the first thought that comes into your mind when you discover that something went wrong? Panic? Fear? Anger? That's normal...but you can move past it as quickly as a thought. Could you pivot to accept it right away and then ask, "What now? How can this be worked into the bigger picture?"
If the answer doesn't come immediately, just wait. Simmer on it and possibilities will begin to come in as imaginations or mental suggestions. Weigh them out and put the best option into motion. You can keep moving forward by solving the issue with action. Successful, happy people move on!
Sometimes what took a turn actually takes things in a better direction, one you wouldn't have come up with on your own, a happy accident. If you let them, all things really do work out for goodness' sake. You can trust God to be a good pinball wizard with your life. His ways are not our ways, but they are thorough and always good. And you know what? He allows for mistakes.
Perhaps most important in the midst of a mistake is the self-talk you allow in your mind while the tension is high. It's important to remember that there is an inner child in each of us--no matter how tough or mature you are--who is listening. Have a no-tolerance policy for name calling ("Stupid...Idiot...Worthless...") or condemnation ("You always *$^# up!). This policy is critical to have in place beforehand so you don't allow yourself to slip into the pit of it in a bad moment. The standard is: if you wouldn't say it to a stranger's child, don't say it to yourself. Have the same courtesy of speech and forgiveness for yourself and your loved ones as you'd give to someone out in the world. After all, your words penetrate deeper into the ones who rely upon you most.
Be kind. Instead, pivot to positive and say soothing or encouraging words to yourself ("Oops...but it's okay" and "You can work this in" and "Time to get creative!") This may seem silly to do, but your subconscious mind (inner kid) believes whatever your conscious mind (parent) says. The subconscious mind controls about 70% of what we actually do and ultimately steers the direction of our life because it holds deep-seated beliefs and habits, values...so it's good to use your conscious mind to encourage greatness in there rather than condemnation! Parent yourself in the direction that you want yourself to grow.
Mistakes are bound to happen, no matter how cautious, conscientious and careful we are. The world we live in contains way too many variables to juggle them all perfectly. Perhaps this is part of the suffering that translates into glory. It's only through suffering that we grow...so we really can count it all joy, if we understand that all things are working together to mature us well.
Stay in grace. Work it in. Let it go. Keep moving. Creativity is worth working at, your whole life long.