We are trained to distinguish right from wrong at an early age. Principles like hard work and honesty are regarded as right while failure and (especially) mistakes are conditioned to be wrong. But we all make mistakes: infidelity, financial mis-investments, a lapse of good judgement -- any lamentable action can be considered a mistake. And we rarely see beyond our mix ups to their true function in our lives. While acting in error can have immediate detrimental effects, our mistakes can play an equally positive role in the long term. It all depends on how we look at it.
When I first moved to America in my late 20s, I was convinced that leaving my native country was a terrible mistake. I was miserable without my family, my singing career, and my entire culture. With time, I began to comprehend the greater reason behind my great mistake. Now I realize that, had I remained in Europe, I would have never been given the extraordinary chances I was given here: the chance to send my children to good schools, to publish books, even to post a blog on The Huffington Post! Though I was too hardheaded to see it at first, my mistake endowed me with the greatest opportunities of my life. As such, your perceived "mistakes" may not be mistakes at all -- they're unlikely strokes of luck, catalysts for personal evolution, and pathways out of negative circumstances. And with time, you embrace the reality that, actually, there are no mistakes -- only blessings in disguise.
So what are the reasons for our mistakes, and why do others act in error towards us? There are several probabilities as to why we make mistakes:
To learn a life lesson: Sometimes life teaches us the hard way. Our own ego may prevent us from learning a crucial lesson, and the universe steps in to make sure we do learn it in the form of our own wrong actions.
To escape a negative situation: Many people regard divorce as a mistake in the initial phases, but come to realize it was their saving grace later on. We can be led out of a negative situation under the temporary guise of a mistake.
To evolve into a new you: The aftermath of a mistake is usually accompanied by much self-reflection. Through our errors we begin to discover new, incredible angles to ourselves because we're led to analyze our tendencies and weaknesses with honesty.
To invoke necessary change: Mistakes can act as gateways to real, much-needed change. Given that we've learned our lesson from a particular error, we learn not to engage further in misguided actions.
To resolve karma: We all have some sort of outstanding karma. Think of your karma as the accumulation of every one of your thoughts and actions -- it certainly builds up in time! Mistakes can serve to end our karma, our soulful ties, with a certain person, place, or thing, which is sometimes necessary. My daughter used to have a friend who repeatedly mistreated her. One day, she unknowingly upset her friend, who decided never to speak to my daughter again. Years later, my daughter understood that her mistake had ended her karma with her pretentious friend and was grateful for it.
To bring about unexpected opportunity: A door may have closed due to your error, but the universe has just opened a new window. You must possess a certain degree of flexibility towards divine timing and faithfully anticipate to receive the blessings you deserve.
Adopting this mentality comes with a bit of introspection. But as with anything else, change commences from within. There are three emotional steps to overcoming mistakes and discerning the true reasons behind them:
The first step is to forgive ourselves and others for former errors. We can easily become mentally and emotionally trapped in a situation from the past. But when we forgive, we detach -- from the regret, guilt, nostalgia, and bitterness that keep us from moving forward. We become free once more to influence our future as we wish. So calm your ego, let go of the grudges, and forgive all mistakes, one by one.
Strive to forgive one person each day. Start from the beginning and think back to your childhood years. Create a list of people you feel you need to forgive, acknowledging in writing that you do excuse their unintended actions.
Next, we must practice wisdom. Wisdom comes from the Latin word "visionem," which means vision. When we apply wisdom, we broaden our vision. What we once could not comprehend, we suddenly understand with ease. Our perception shifts, and the beneficial influence of our mistakes becomes evident. Envision every negative situation as having a miraculous outcome every single day.
Once we see the bigger picture, we can begin to accept, and this is the third and final element: to accept what happened and accept that it needed to happen. Remember, there is no shame in mistake-making, especially if we accept that all faults are designed for our higher good. Acceptance is that final step in which you no longer dwell on your mistakes, have learned to see past them, and have discovered their vital purpose in your life. The best exercise for acceptance is action. Perform an action that reflects your acceptance of a perceived mistake. For example, if you were fired because of an error you made, act so that your slip-up is never repeated in your current job. Acting out your acceptance helps to bring that crowning note of closure to any former faulty action.
Mistakes can cause suffering to us and others. But when we practice the virtues of forgiveness, wisdom, and acceptance, we elevate our mentality to reveal the hidden miracle of our mistakes.
To making "mistakes,"
Dr. Carmen Harra