Mistakes are learning opportunities

If you shut your door to all errors truth will be shut out.  ~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds, 1916

As children we are made to fear mistakes because mistakes are often followed by some form of punishment or negative consequences. This may be the reason why we continue to view mistakes as shameful and bad rather than as learning opportunities. How do we help our children, and ourselves, view mistakes as a normal human experience or as learning opportunities? Try asking these questions with real curiosity:

  • Have you made this mistake before?
  • What circumstances led up to making these mistakes?
  • Are there others involved in this mistake? What is your contribution?
  • How have you felt after making this mistake?
  • How would you feel if you made the same mistake again?

It is really difficult for us to keep ourselves from judging and defending the mistakes. It is equally hard for us to forgive ourselves when the mistakes hurt others or have a long lasting impact on ourselves. The qualities that help in these circumstances are openness and acceptance to learn, flexibility to change our thoughts and actions, and most importantly wisdom to see the value in the mistake.

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