Why Fear Mistakes

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

by Jonathan Hilton  Day 53

As we move through life, there are a few things that become clear are going to be a mistakes-quotes3permanent part of our existence.  No matter how things are going they are going to change. We have a finite time to exist, accomplish and live, and we are going to make mistakes.

If mistakes are an inevitable part of life, and important I think it is important to start to question why we are so afraid of them.  In fact people lie and mislead every day to avoid being associated with a mistake.

Yet it has been proven in each and every life that it is the mistakes and missteps that lead to the greatest advances people make.  I have learned much more from the mistakes in life than from the successes because the mistakes hurt.  Why are we so afraid to make mistakes? Read on.

It’s In Our DNA

4444As human beings we are descended from a primitive people who were hunter gatherers, scratching out a living as best they could against competing groups. That was a time where a mistake could get you killed.

Although you may develop a great new hunting technique or made a brand new weapon that gave you an advantage in survival.  Yet if they made a mistake then that was your life.  We are hard-wired to fear death, and fear our own mortality, so can it be any wonder that we are intolerant of any mistake now.

It may be our own mistake or the mistake of someone else, but our instincts tell us in the moment to judge the mistake harshly and get away from it.   Being mistake free used to keep you alive, but it didn’t help you evolve or move to another level.

We Are Brain Washed

From the moment we are old enough to understand things as kids we are institutionalized 2178-i-never-made-a-mistake-in-my-life-at-least-never-one-that_380x280_widthinto to a public education system that provides the model of behavior it wants to see and we are rewarded for following it as perfectly as we can.

Those who can’t follow are given “poor” grades and encouraged to try to conform a little bit more.  The educational system has done a great job of making sure that creativity is abandoned for conformity at an early age and that any kind of mistake will not be tolerated.

There is no error allowed to express yourself as an individual or to try something you are not sure about.  Only an approved curriculum is rewarded, based on learning objectives that don’t seem to make a lot of sense.

Anyone who doesn’t fit into the mold of a student and isn’t performing to expectations are treated with drugs that are designed to make them more docile and agreeable.  Yes if you make mistakes in school you will be “educated”.

I can see why people become afraid of making mistakes, when they do they are labeled with a bad grade and in extreme cases drugged.  I would hate mistakes too.

Your Judgmental Eyes

As adults mistakes continue to be frowned upon, whether they are a part of your work or personal life or both.  Everyone in the history of people is an expert at making mistakes 77777and also a victim of them.

I believe we should all strive for perfection, in all that we do, but you can’t give something your all if you are worried about failing or making a mistake.  Whenever you are striving to reach new ground there are going to be a learning curve.

You may hit the mark on your first attempt, but more often than not it might take a few attempts to master the curve.  To me if the intent is there to improve something or try something new then you should be given a bit of leeway to succeed.

Yet how many people tried, failed, were criticized and ridiculed  which led to them quitting before they reach their ultimate goal.  Perhaps it was the judgmental eyes of a loved one that saw the mistake as fatal, rather than just a short set back.

How many people quit because of this?  We fear mistakes because of what people will think about us.  Even though nothing great was ever accomplished without making a few.  Mistakes are never fatal only the choices you make because of them are.

Get Rid of Fear

74630_136307529868004_680428262_nIn my mind there is a choice in each day to live in fear or to live with love.  When you look at mistakes it is important to look at them through soft eyes that understand and encourage.  It is when we look with judgment on the mistakes of others that we forget the humanity we have experienced in our own mistakes.

Mistakes happen, we don’t want them to, but they are never fatal.  When we learn to leave the fear of falling behind us, then we will be able to soar to new heights.

17 thoughts on “Why Fear Mistakes”

  1. You mention looking at your mistakes with soft eyes, this is so important even when looking inward, look with soft eyes. Also, speak with soft voice, in other words, speak gently to oneself and with others too…these are points very close to my heart…

    1. I agree so much with this. There was a time, even though I would never speak to another in harsh tones or judge them harshly, I was speaking to myself with very judgmental and difficult words. I judged myself unrealistically and that was not good. You have to treat yourself with the same understanding and expectations that you treat others with. The soft eyes are my reminder to do just that, we experience perceived mistakes all the time. Yet if I never made a mistake, I wouldn’t be writing this right now and you would have never heard of Jonathan Hilton. I would not know about your blog or any of the blogs I read and love or the people behind them that I enjoy so much.

  2. If it were possible to see what the World would look like if institutionalisation were abandoned would make an interesting book. I think fear of the unknown drives people to judge others. I agree that looking what others have learned from mistakes is a much better approach than focussing on the mistake. What is a mistake after all? Is this compared with someone else’s belief of what is right and wrong? I could tie my brain in knots for weeks thinking about this one 🙂

    1. What great thoughts Robert, I was just thinking about the fact that I should have made the argument that there are no mistakes at all, just opportunities. What we view initially as a mistake may really be a necessary step to get to where we really want to be. The label of mistake is one that we give a situation, it could be more positive either a good try or an experiment or whatever. It would be impossible to get to the top of the mountain without climbing each step along the way, sometimes you might get lost, or slip and lose your footing but those experiences teach you something.
      I think a world without institutional teaching and indoctrination is almost impossible for me to imagine. Maybe you are right that it would make a great story. Thank you for all the great thoughts Robert. 🙂

  3. Very true! Mistakes should never been seen as a bad thing (though this is easier said from hindsight…), just as an opportunity to learn and grow. Mistakes never have to be permanent.

    1. I agree totally Katie. It is so much easier to deal with a mistake after you see the value in it. When you first experience it there seems to be nothing but problems. I read once that one of the best things we can do in life is not to label experiences as good or bad because they aren’t only our perceptions are good or bad. Experiences are just things that happen independently or our likes or dislikes. That has stuck with me. I would even possibly argue that there are no real mistakes only opportunity to see the path before you. Thanks for the comment, for reading and just being plain old awesome Katie!

  4. Totally agree! That last sentence..totally agree! Sometimes we put TOO MUCH though in what we do instead of following what we really want to do. All it takes is giving it a shot. Mistakes aren’t all that bad because without them, we won’t be able to enjoy the little victories we have each day 😉

    1. That is the truth Kim. Besides if we mastered everything just by trying, there would be little sense of accomplishment and those things wouldn’t be special. We are all different and have different skills and talents. I think that trying is the only way to find out for sure if you have a passion for something or not. 🙂 Mistakes always happen, we are not perfect, but it is the mistakes that make us unique and kind of powerful. Thanks for reading and commenting. Always so great to hear from you. 🙂

  5. “Mistakes happen, we don’t want them to, but they are never fatal.” That is so perfect, Jon. It should be on a bunch of Tumblr photos.
    I read about businesses that the only ones that are ever successful are the ones that made lots of mistakes, the others just stayed at a constant state of complacency. We need mistakes, all of us.

    1. Are they really mistakes? That is the conclusion that I have gotten from writing this. Not every misstep is a mistake, some are probably needed in order to grow, develop and reach our potential. Those can’t really be considered mistakes, can they? Thank you so much for commenting and reading. 🙂

  6. As one who has made huge mistakes, I really appreciate this post, Jon. I can’t agree with you more about never giving up. “Mistakes are never fatal only the choices you make because of them are.” I also agree that mistakes are the best teachers, although sometimes painful. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

    1. We all have made our share of mistakes in life, or learning opportunities. I have said to others that I don’t really know if there are mistakes or all experiences are just to guide us where we need to go. I could have never imagined that I would be where I am. Not because it is unbelievably awesome but because it is so different from what I would have expected a year ago. I am just taking it in and learning what I am supposed to learn. Thank you so much for the comment, Kozo my friend. I have been pressed for time lately, and I only have time to read blogs on my phone at night, and I just cannot comment using that. So just know I am reading and appreciating all of your fine work.

  7. Great post, JD. Great message. We should never fear making mistakes, and I wish we could change the structure of our schools around to be less rigid, less results based, so we could embrace creativity and imagination. I am very worried about the “education” that the little prince is going to get when we finally send him off to school in a few years. I think the queen and I are going to have to do most of the meaningful teaching at home… Then again, maybe that is how it is supposed to be?

    1. I agree with you that the most important teaching that your son will get will come from you guys. I feel pretty confident that his education will be in good hands. Mistakes are really just learning experiences in themselves. They only seem like mistakes because they might take us somewhere unexpected or force us to try again. Most always when you try again you either succeed or at least get on the path to success. Great comment Matt, don’t worry I am sure that the little prince will have a very creative education from you. 🙂

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