Every person is bound to make a mistake or experience frustration at some point, with many people making mistakes and facing frustration regularly. The two are part of life, but if we don’t learn how to navigate mistakes and frustration properly, we risk those mistakes and frustrations defining us and overtaking us. So how do we navigate mistakes and frustrations in a way that helps us rather than harms us?
A primary reason why making mistakes is so frustrating for many people is how making mistakes is typically framed. Society seems to push the narrative that making mistakes is bad and proof of intellectual inferiority. However, that’s not at all the case. Mistakes are a great foundation to build upon, and if we reframe the way we think about making mistakes as a positive, we’ll be able to better manage and cope with them when it happens.
Emotions are powerful; it is an entirely normal emotional response to react to mistakes or challenges with frustration, avoidance, and even fear. However, properly acknowledging and channelling these emotional responses is essential if one aims to grow from the experience. Negative emotions arising from mistakes and frustration should be acknowledged, not avoided. Once the feelings have been recognised and released, there is clarity of mind needed to channel those emotions for good.
Rather than responding with panic and frustration, one can learn from the experience of making a mistake or failing and then improve upon their skillset based on what they learned. This learning can be applied to future situations and help one evolve and increase intelligence. In a series of studies, researchers with the Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care determined that trial and error allows instead of hinders learning. This confirms that making mistakes can be an asset (Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, 2019).
Flexibility & Creativity
Continually operating from a place of flexibility and creativity will prepare you to manage mistakes and frustration well. Flexible people respond to sudden changes and risks with an optimistic attitude and the ability to adapt to new situations. Those who operate in a continual state of creativity tend to approach unfamiliar or challenging situations with determination and excitement to learn from the experience.
It may seem counterintuitive to say that you should plan after the previous section about being flexible, but it makes sense. Plan to make mistakes. When you enter into a process or situation knowing ahead of time that you may make an error, you won’t overreact when you do. Having planned for such a thing, you’re now emotionally prepared to cope with what has happened and move forward (Kane, 2018). And in the rare instance that you can execute a plan without any errors, you’ll be satisfied knowing you did much better than you intended to perform.
Mistakes are not a cause for dismay. Instead, mistakes should be valued and celebrated for the knowledge they provide. When we understand that mistakes don’t define us, we can embrace the chances they offer us to develop more skills and knowledge. In doing so, we can continue to mature and learn as we grow.
Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. (2019, November 4). Making mistakes while studying helps you learn better: When learning something new, there are instances where trial and error helps rather than hinders, according to recent findings by Baycrest researchers. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180611133437.htm
Kane, S. (2018, July 8). 10 Ways to Beat Frustration. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/10-ways-to-beat-frustration/