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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
 
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  Home  > Personal Wellness  > Owning Our Mistakes

Owning Our Mistakes

It takes energy to try to cover up our tracks if we've made a wrong turn. It wastes energy to procrastinate in our communications when we realize we've made a mistake. It's painful to worry and wonder what might happen if or when somebody finds out about something we've done . . . or neglected to do. Owning up to our mistakes, quickly, is a healthy way to conserve energy better spent in life-enhancing ways.

When it comes to offering apologies or telling the truth about errors in judgment or any other mistakes, it's crucial to make the distinction between the essential goodness of yourself, on the one hand, and your behaviors on the other. Everybody breaks things; everybody breaks down, at times. Nobody fulfills the perfect ideal! We are not defined by our mistakes, however, unless we want to be. (Some folks keep pointing to their failures as if they are proud of them.) But because we have difficulty separating a label from the person/thing itself, we often take on unnecessary guilt or blame because we have identified with our shortcomings or accidents. Certainly this is true in our culture: because of our perceived need to be right," assigning blame is most likely the first line of response. This form of defensiveness may easily overshadow the more important need to solve the problem that has arisen as a result of the mistake.




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