We are all human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we get mad at ourselves over a mistake that we should have known better. It happens. We get mad at ourselves and then we let it go, but when you have mental illness you can’t just let it go. Those endless thoughts go on a rampage. They turn evil and they start ripping you apart. In the end you drive yourself into an anxiety attack, a break down, or into depression. Like they say, there is no worse critic then yourself, and this is so true. No one can beat you up internally as bad as you do to yourself.
I recently made a purchase on Ebay that didn’t turn out to be what I thought it was. I misread the description and ended up spending a lot of money on something I can’t use. My stomach plummeted when I realized my mistake and my shoulders tensed. My thoughts went wild. I thought: I’m such a screw up. I am so stupid: I should have known better. I can’t believe I made such a dumb mistake, I’m an idiot. I can’t do anything right. I wasted our money; I’m such a brainless wonder. My thoughts went on and on.
I watched a movie with a friend, but my mind kept obsessing on my mistake. Internally I beat myself up, over and over again. I felt my stomach twist and my anxiety build. My shoulders tightened and began to ache. I struggled to sit still. I couldn’t just let it go. I felt like my mistake defined me and my ability to make logical decisions. I hated myself for a simple human error. To me it was more than a mistake. It was a definition of my lack of intelligence. I was stupid. I should have known better and made a better decision.
I told my husband, “I’m sorry; I screwed everything up and wasted our money. I’m a stupid loser.”
My husband looked me in the eyes. “I don’t ever want to hear you call yourself stupid and it was just a mistake. We all make mistakes. Contact the seller and see if you can return it. Everyone makes mistakes.”
I still felt sick to my stomach. “It was a stupid mistake. I should have been smarter. I shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions or buy things. I screw everything up.”
Lou put his arm around me. “You only made a simple mistake. You’re human. We all make mistakes and you don’t screw everything up. Let it go. Stop putting yourself down or you’ll get sick. Focus on something positive.”
When I sat down to think about it, I realized Lou was right. I made an error just like every human on this earth does from time to time. My mistake doesn’t define me or is not a sign of my lack of intelligence. Beating myself up over it was only making me sick, on edge; and sad. It wasn’t solving anything. The only person I was hurting was myself. So I contacted the seller about my mistake and he refunded my money. I decided to just let my mistake roll off my shoulders.
Instead of beating myself up, I decided to list all the things I have done in my life. Like publishing stories, making the honor roll in high school, making the National Honor Society is high school, keeping a job for 22 years, keeping track of our checking; and so on. I looked at my list and asked myself, “Is this a sign of someone who is stupid? Does a dumb person accomplish so much?” My answer was, “No, this is what a smart person accomplishes.”
If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up and obsess over it. Tell yourself you are only human and like every other human you’re not perfect. Stop those nasty thoughts before they tear you apart. Fight them with positives. Get mad at yourself for a few minutes and then let it go. Sometimes it’s not easy to let go, but do it for your own wellbeing. You’ll feel better when you do.
I’m working on handling my mistakes better. Learning to stop beating up on myself will allow my soul to dance within the light.