I gotta start by shouting out a big THANK YOU to everyone who showed up for our first Facebook Live show last Friday.
Seriously, I had no idea how much of a success our first show would be. In fact, it was so much fun, thanks to all of your feedback and enthusiasm, I’ve decided to go live again this Friday, August 4th at 1pm Eastern. We’ll be tackling today’s topic – Why You Need To Be Making More Mistakes – and of course I’ll be answering all of your questions.
If you want to catch the live show, all that you need to do is come to Growing Up Chaotic’s Facebook page at 1pm Eastern this Friday.
I hope you’ll be able to join me and chat with me LIVE!
Speaking of chatting – recently I had an incredible conversation with the always insightful Amy Eden Jollymore.
If you’re not familiar with Amy’s work, she’s the founder of Guess What Normal Is, one of the first blogs for Adult Children of Alcoholics. And she’s also the author of The Kind Self-Healing Book – a practical, hands-on guide that explains how to transform self-loathing into loving self-compassion.
Amy was kind enough to help me with a special addition I’m making to my online course for Adult Children of Alcoholics called ACOA 101.
I’ll be revealing more about that addition in September when the next session of ACOA 101 kicks off.
But in the meantime, I wanted to talk about this powerful insight that Amy shared with me during our conversation, are you ready for it?
Our brains learn when we make mistakes.
It’s an incredibly powerful bit of knowledge for Adult Children of Alcoholics to understand, simply because so many of us hold ridiculously high standards for ourselves and strive to be perfect in everything that we do.
And perfectionism has the tendency to kill dreams, demolish goals and leave us living lives that are painfully, unnecessarily mediocre.
So, today, not only are we going to take a quick look at the science behind this idea but you’re also going to learn how to put this new bit of brain knowledge to work for you. And believe it or not, the key to making improvements in this area all starts with you and your mindset.
Once you’re finished reading, head to the comment section and finish one or both of these statements.
If I gave myself permission to make mistakes I’d be more willing to ___________.
If I gave myself permission to make mistakes I’d no longer beat myself up about ___________.
Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
As always, thanks for reading, commenting and sharing!
Until next Tuesday,
Our Brains Are Hardwired To Learn From Our Mistakes
Now this idea is based off of research done by Dr. Jason Moser at Michigan State University.
Dr. Moser found that when participants in his study made a mistake, their brains reacted with two responses that took place within a few hundred milliseconds of each other.
The first response, Dr. Moser described as the “oh crap response.” This is when the brain realized that something had gone wrong or a mistake had been made.
The second response occurred when the participant consciously recognized that something went wrong, they had made a mistake and were going to do something about it.
Dr. Moser found that the faster the brain moved from the first response to the second, the more positive of an attitude the participants had towards making mistakes.
It turns out, when we have a positive outlook on making mistakes our brains respond in kind and devote more resources, focus and brain power towards fixing that mistake.
And if you think of the brain like a muscle, the more you challenge your brain, through the learning experiences of mistakes, the stronger it grows.
Of course, I’m simplifying things here but I want you to make this important connection when it comes to making mistakes.
Making a mistake + Positive mental outlook = More brain power which equals growth and learning.
Making a mistake + Negative mental outlook = Less brain power which equals less growth and learning.
Bottom line is this – our brains grow and learn when we make mistakes.
Why This Is Important For You To Know
As an adult child of several alcoholics and as someone who grew up in a home where mistakes weren’t viewed as learning opportunities, I think it’s important to understand the true nature of mistake making.
For most of my life, I’ve not only beaten myself up verbally and mentally for making mistakes but on too many occasions, I’ve also avoided new opportunities and experiences simply because I was too afraid to make mistakes.
Instead of seeing mistakes as something temporary, I’ve always viewed them as proof. Proof that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, capable or talented. And as a result I’ve missed out on so many opportunities to grow as a person. I’ve missed out on discovering new talents and exploring new interests. And unfortunately, although I hate to admit it, not understanding the true nature of mistakes has fed this false belief that if I’m not immediately perfect at something, aka mistake free, that means I can’t do it at all.
Given that many ACOAs are prone to perfectionism, this knowledge and understanding can go a long way in helping us break free from the mental chains of our past and present.
So how can we start to embrace mistake making?
#1 Reframe Your Focus
Thomas Edison, who’s often described as America’s greatest inventor, understood the value of reframing when he said this,
“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
10,000 ways? Think of all the mistakes he must have made. Think of the number of opportunities he had to give up!
Seriously though, if you want to change the way you view mistakes you can start by reframing your focus.
Instead of seeing mistakes as further proof of all your inadequacies, try to focus instead on how the brain uses mistakes to learn and grow.
Remember that every time you make a mistake your brain is pumped and ready to figure out how to help you fix it.
Your brain doesn’t care if your mom was an alcoholic, if your brother is in jail for drugs and it certainly isn’t worried about how perfect your are at whatever you’re trying to do.
Remember the more mistakes you make the more opportunity you create for your brain and you to grow!
#2 Become A Detective
I encourage students of my course ACOA 101 to become detectives in their life and in their recovery.
This means, whenever you find yourself running into your usual patterns of behaving and responding – stop, take a deep breath and, like a detective, get curious about your reactions.
This advice can easily be applied to making mistakes.
So, the next time you make a mistake, instead of giving in to your usual response, stop and take a few minutes to figure out what’s going on. What thoughts are in your head? How do you feel? Confident? If not, what are you telling yourself? Which old beliefs are popping up and floating around in your head? What do you feel the urge to do? Give up? Try again? Beat yourself up for “failing” in the first place?
Once you get a clear picture and you build an awareness of how you react when you make a mistake you can then choose to respond in a new way.
Now responding in a new way won’t necessarily be easy to do. There will be plenty of opportunities, in this process, to make many more new mistakes.
But if you approach this internal work like a detective, I’ve found, that I’m not only more open to the answers that I find but I’m more likely to find solutions that are tailor made to me.
So get out there and make some mistakes! And while you’re going at it, remember these wise words from Elbert Hubbard, a famous traveling salesman who no doubt made a tun of mistakes!
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
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