On why we need to make Mistakes

Dear quarter lives,

I think most of us really hate making mistakes, but I must admit, there is definitely something to them.

You see, mistakes come in two levels depending on one’s level of self-awareness. The first level is when you make the mistake and don’t realise making it and can go on living like nothing happened, unless someone else brings it to your attention. The second level is when you make a mistake and know it in your bones. I don’t know about you but I find it so hard to sit with myself after realising I made a mistake, mainly because I find myself overwhelmed with regret and guilt that I can’t escape because I know that I know that whatever I did was wrong, and then I get stuck in a backward loop in time trying to reconctrust endless scenarios of all the other actions I could’ve taken instead of the one I actually took. It is only when I’ve exhausted myself of scenarios and find myself on mental repeat, that I finally decide to accept that I did in fact make a mistake and take responsibility for my mistake. It is only when I reach this state of full acceptance of my mistake and in turn myself that all the discomfort settles and I can finally see why I needed to make the mistake.

Any child can tell you that the reason we make mistakes is so we can learn from them. But what no child can tell you is what it is exactly we’re supposed to be learning from making mistakes. The child might offer an answer like “so I don’t do this again” or “so that I know how to do this the correct way next time”. But these aren’t really why we make mistakes, they’re just context. The real reason we get things wrong is so that we can learn how to love ourselves as the imperfect and flawed human beings we truly are. Mistakes are an opportunity for us to grow our muscle of love. It’s not only ourselves we learn to have compassion for by making mistakes, but others too. It’s what brings us closer to each other in our times of despair. It’s the fact that you’ve made a similar mistake that allows you to say to another “I feel you.” , when they’re confiding in you. You see we need to make mistakes to grow more in love with ourselves and others. We need to make mistakes to see where we still need to learn to love and give kindness. Mistakes show us where our judgements are still hard and resisting the softening power of love.

Mistakes help reveal us to ourselves, and in that process of revelation, we meet our boundaries — the things that feel wrong to us but perhaps not to another, so we learn to communicate those things that don’t sit right with us and in turn we learn to speak up for ourselves. And there is no greater act of self-love than speaking up for yourself! We need to make mistakes to realise what feels good to us and what feels bad. It is not about abiding by an overarching social or religious morality but rather about learning to respect our own values and sometimes we need to make mistakes to know exactly how we feel about certain things. Mistakes are like our little life exams that continue to hand us over from one level of love to the next.

For the longest time, I used to think that I needed to punish myself so that I don’t repeat any mistake twice. I thought punishment was the tool to use to exercise self-discipline. I didn’t know that punishment is a tool for self-hate. When we make mistakes, all we really need is a time-out to reflect. We just need time to sit in silence with ourselves, first to forgive ourselves for not being perfect, then to forgive ourselves for expecting ourselves to be perfect and finally to love that part of ourselves we realised we’ve been hating by making the mistake. And in that way, we learn to carry ourselves over from the darkness of shame into the light of learning and love.

We are all human. We make mistakes. We love. We get angry. We get scared. We act out of fear. We forget we are worthy. We fall down. We stand up again. We remember we are loved. We love again.

Embrace all of you! It is the imperfect parts of us that teach us most about our humanity. It is those parts that make our hearts grow and have the capacity to love all the parts of another.

So make mistakes. The important thing is not to deny them because when we deny our mistakes we can never claim responsibility for them. And if we can’t claim responsibility for them, we won’t be able to learn from them. We won’t grow. We will remain stuck in a loop of self-denial and self-hate.

Mistakes are a pathway for us to free ourselves from the shame of error. It is time we normalised error and celebrated its capacity to teach us. There is beauty in error. You just need to open your heart to embrace what error has to tell you.

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

On Accidental Love & Articulation

Dear quarter lives,

We often think we need to articulate ideas clearly so that others can understand us. We articulate to communicate with others. Language is what we use to articulate complex ideas in complex ways to other complex minds. That’s what we’re taught, even if not so explicitly but through all those years of school and all that emphasis on presentations, sentence structure and grammar. But what we are never taught implicitly or explicitly is the importance of articulating ideas to ourselves. I mean don’t you think if we can’t communicate with our own selves clearly, how on earth are we supposed to communicate with others effectively. Articulation is and will always be about communication, but we forgot that it is us who we most need to communicate with, and then comes everyone else after that.

It comes as no surprise that once we have mastered the art of articulation with our own selves, once we have spent our 10,000 hours speaking to ourselves not just randomly, but intentionally, transforming fragments of thoughts into coherent elaborate conversations, we are then able to articulate anything and everything to the world. It is only sane to speak to ourselves. It is only sane to have spent the most time with ourselves. It is only sane to know HOW to speak to ourselves after all those hours or else what a huge waste of time being us would be. A mastery of articulation of oneself is a mastery of communication with oneself and a mastery of communication means a mastery of connection. And to master the art of connecting to oneself is to master oneself. So as you can see, we don’t need to learn to finish our sentences so we can communicate with other humans more effectively, we finish sentences for our own understanding of ourselves. Let me stretch this concept of articulation a little further. As we now have made the connection between articulation and mastery of oneself, can we not make the connection between a fear of articulation and a fear of mastery of oneself. For what is mastery of oneself, but to become the truth of oneself, and so can we not say that as attractive a proposition as knowing the truth is, it can often be a very scary one, for it means facing all of our Self; shadows, dungeons and all. It is through getting to know our Self that we find Self again. It is how we become our true authentic Self, and it is then that we can finally articulate our truth. But not all people care to venture into the dark forest, for their little island is just fine, they have no aspirations for an all-becoming truth, for an omnipresent light within, they are just fine as they are with their fears of public speaking and fears of communicating with themselves. They do not care to know themselves, not because they are careless human beings, but because it is hard. 

Think about it for a moment. How many people in this world are afraid of public speaking? And how many of those do you think are able to truly be themselves, even alone in a room with no one around? It is not the discomfort of articulating a thought in public that they are afraid of, it is the discomfort of articulating themselves, not only to others in public, but to themselves. They can hear themselves attempt an articulation after all, and it is often this fear that a truth they might not have prepared for will show itself. It is this fear that articulation will betray them, and that is because they have not mastered it. To master articulation is not to control it, but rather to flow with it. It will always remain its own creature and will move to its own rhythm, but to master it is to be familiar with its unpredictability, to be comfortable when it takes a sharp turn right or plunges 100ft deep. To master articulation is to build trust with it and it with you. And so you see, to master articulation, you must trust yourself. And to trust yourself, you must love it dearly.

So if you are like me, and have a fear of public speaking, think again! It is not public speaking that you are afraid of, it is yourself that you fear and have yet to get comfortable with. So as I observe my own articulation improve the more I get comfortable with the most uncomfortable parts of myself, I can tell you that the key to better public speaking is not more voice coaching or acting classes, the key to better public speaking is getting to know yourself, overcoming the fear of what you might find out, and loving it anyway. It is this accidental love that we fall into with ourselves that allows us to articulate ourselves anywhere in front of anyone with the pride and joy of a mother watching her son graduate, for anyone that has been on this journey of self-discovery knows that if you have survived it, there is nothing in the world you can’t endure, not even a talk on a stage in front of thousands of people, and not because you are fearless now, but because in knowing ourselves, in getting comfortable with ourselves, we accidentally end up falling in love with ourselves, all of ourselves, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And anyone who’s been in love will tell you, it makes absolutely no sense at all that when you fall in love with a person it is the things that annoyed you about them at first that you end up loving most, that you miss most.

So to all those people taking voice classes, I say fuck the classes, fuck the intonations, inflections and enunciations, and accidentally fall in love with yourself — for there will be no better articulation than when you do! 

S.A.