A Mistake


I recently made a mistake. It wasn't a big mistake, and in the long run, I don't think it will have any ill effect.

I did something out of the ideal order. My gut feeling at the time was that it was fine to do it, but I was being a little impatient.


What I am really interested in is how making that mistake felt.


I felt ashamed, unworthy, and like I wanted to escape.

I judged myself to be bad, and unworthy of good things in life.

I felt sad.


This all happened in about 2.8 seconds.


I completely disregarded all of the good things I do consistently, and that it is very rare for me to make an error in judgment.

I allowed .00000001% of my experience to color 100% of my current state.


And this, dear readers, I have a big problem with.

Here I was, experiencing exactly what I want to help people avoid- feeling negative, uncomfortable, and not knowing what to do about it.

Not being able to regulate my inner state. Feeling at the mercy of my own emotional reactions.


I took a deep breath. I checked in. Was I really a bad guy? No. Did I make mistakes like this often? No. Was there anything I could do to rectify my mistake? Yes.

I had an honest talk with someone, apologized, and took some action.

And now I am writing this. Why? Because I want to remember that feeling and this process.


I was so suddenly uncomfortable. I had honestly forgotten how quickly and completely feelings of low self-esteem can take me over.

I had forgotten the cold ocean of tepid self-regard that I used to dog paddle in and get pulled under so often.

And the other thing I forgot is how heavy shame feels. How hard it is to change direction and move against the downward current.


Luckily I have people in my life who throw me a rope when they see me struggling.

(Tangent: many years ago- over 30 now, I decided to only have people in my life that supported me in some way. It felt harsh but needed at the time, and has really paid off)


It felt so easy and familiar to shut down (I miss-typed this as ‘shit down’ at first, which I think is funny), avoid, disengage with life, be moody, and separate myself from loved ones.


So what happened here?

I wasn’t perfect.

I was a normal human with variable actions, logic, and feelings.


And I made a mistake, another normal human occurrence, and then allowed my personal sky to fall.

Sigh.


But then, I found the pause. I found the space, the distance, the perspective I needed to challenge my own reaction.


One of the ways I did this was to ask myself:

Will this matter tomorrow?

In a week?

In a month?

In a year?

After I got a tiny bit of perspective, I looked at the facts. I did what needed doing. I cleared out my heart and went on with my day.


I want to point out that I found the perspective after the uncomfortable feelings were already happening.

They weren't floating by like a cloud in the sky. They were pulling me under relentlessly.

I want you to know that you can be full of uncomfortable feelings AND look for perspective.


Changing your emotional regulation happens in the trenches of our lives.

Be brave, my fellow humans.