For most of us, mistakes have gotten a bad rap most of our lives. From a very early age, we learn to avoid making mistakes, that they are wrong, that when you mess up, and you will be criticized. We learn that mistakes can cause humiliation, injury, or worse.
While it is true that some mistakes, like drunk driving, can have dire effects, the majority of the mistakes we make in our lives are not life or death, and yet we fear them as if they are.
Part of parenting is instructing kids what to do and not to do, so kids hear a lot of messages about what they did wrong. Since there’s not much about the consequences of mistakes (good or bad), we grow up believing mistakes are bad. Consequently, we avoid making them.
Nowadays, an increasing amount of parenting has involved shielding children from almost anything that could conceivably be considered harmful. While this may seem okay, picture an older teen about to finish high school who has never had to deal with the repercussions of any mistake she or he has ever made.
While it may appear unlikely, this is not far off for some kids today. Known as the helicopter parent or even more aggressive bulldozer moms and dads, they are bringing up an entire generation of young people who are not permitted to fall short and therefore, never deal with the effects of their actions.
All of this, in addition to the ever-present social obsession with looking great, living a perfect life, and constant interaction with one other. This need for putting on the ideal persona adds to the suggestion that we hide our mistakes, we deny them or criticize others for them, or we agonize over mistakes of the past.
All this negativeness corners us in a way we avoid taking on more risk, growing, learning, to minimize our risk of failure. This limits not only our growth but also the life-changing results of growing from how we react to the mistakes we work through.