Letting Go of Mistakes

I made a big mistake at work today. Nothing illegal, life-threatening or anything, but embarrassing for the company that I work for. As I realised what I’d done, I could feel the chill going down my spine, heart racing, face flushing and dread sinking in. I put off informing my boss for a few minutes – I just didn’t want to deal with it.

He emailed me back to say it was a serious mistake (I was working remotely) and it definitely must not happen again, re-iterated. It was copied in to a few other team members, more for info probably but why did I feel like it was to widen my circle of shame?

It was something that could have so easily been avoided. I can’t understand how I missed it. Looking back, I think ‘only an idiot or extremely lazy person could have done that’. I can’t get it out of my head – I’m excruciatingly embarrassed and ashamed. What must he think of me? I’m only to happy to fill in the blanks.

I’m also feeling bad about feeling quite so bad about myself. I find the self-pity and self-loathing to be utterly self-indulgent. I should get some real problems.Ackno

I feel so bad that I’m going to try and apply what I’ve previously learnt from reading depression and low self-esteem help books:

1)Don’t judge yourself based on isolated or specific incidents.

I take this to mean that I shouldn’t base my value as a person based on just a few negative incidents. I should look at myself as a whole. At the moment, only past mistakes are running through my mind. I’m trying to build a mental dam – not too difficult, I can easily focus on my BFM today. I feel that overall I am a bad person.

2)How you would feel towards someone who had make the same mistake.

Generally I see mistakes as part of life. Usually not life-threatening and most of the time. I’m quite understanding and forgiving. I don’t imagine that others are, so I feel justified today in ruminating on my mistake. I’m only hurting myself, I know.

3)How big a deal is it in the grand scheme of things? Will it still matter in 6 months, 1 year, 10 years time?

It is a big deal to me. I have a fantastic memory, especially for negative events. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep if I start thinking about past shortcomings. It’s very likely, almost certain, that this event is going to be haunting me in over a year’s time. Also I imagine it will lurk in my boss’s memory – not an active memory, but just enough to taint their view of my competency. I think that’s the worst thing in this particular mistake.

Maybe the shame won’t feel quite as strong and will diminish over time. It’s not helping me now to know that, though.

In 6 months time, I’m sure I’ll have made another rotten mistake to ruminate and obsess over.   Something to look forward too…

4)Acknowledge that I did the best that I could do at the time.

Oh dear. The problem arose because I didn’t do anywhere near my best. Going forwards, I will be obsessive about trying to prevent myself from repeating the same mistake. A positive outcome perhaps? Possibly. However, I can already see where this is heading. Me taking longer and longer at work to check things, then double check things to make sure I did check properly the first time. Heightened stress and anxiety when I have to perform this monthly task – the expectation and dread of further failure. Especially now I’ve been warned by my boss that ‘THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN AGAIN’.

Typing this out has made me feel marginally better. I’ll save the obsession and rumination for when I go to sleep tonight and there’s nothing else to occupy my mind.

I’ll be sure to let you know in 6 months whether I still think of today as a big deal.


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