In Others’ Words: Mistakes

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard, American writer

Here’s your dose of reality for today: You’re going to make a mistake.

Mistakes happen — and some of them will be yours. Now deal with that truth and move on.

As a writer, sometimes I’m paralyzed by the idea of not getting a scene or a chapter right. I stare at the computer screen, hands resting on my keyboard … and I’ve got nothing. The words rolling around in my head aren’t worth spilling out into a Word document. The dialogue is stilted. The storyworld nonexistent. The interaction is b-o-r-i-n-g.

But I have to push past all my writer worries and write something. If I don’t, then fear wins.

You know what else? I’ve made mistakes as a mom, as a wife, as a friend. And I haven’t resigned from life. I’ve asked forgiveness — but I haven’t quit. Oh, sure, I’ve thought about quitting, but only when I’ve let fear rule the day.

Mistakes happen. Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s get on with the rest of the day.

In Your Words: How do you push past the fear of making a mistake?

 

 

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43 Comments

  1. March 21, 2012, 5:36 am   /  Reply

    Honestly, one of the best ways I tend to combat the fear of mistakes is to remind myself of the mistakes I made in the past…and the fact that no one died. 🙂 When we have moments of worry or confusion at work, one of my coworkers is known to blurt, “No one’s going to die.” Guess it rubbed off on me. (‘Course, talk to my friend who’s an ER doctor and a mistake really could mean the difference between life and death.)

    But for real, you’re right. Mistakes are rarely as weighty as our worry makes them out to be.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 5:59 am   /  Reply

      Melissa, I’m married to a doctor–I understand their life or death perspective. But it isn’t always life or death.
      And in my day-to-day world, it usually isn’t. It’s usually typos. Or misspellings.
      I used to judge things by asking myself, “Is this really a crisis?” Kind of like your friend saying, “No one’s going to die.”
      Too often we can act like that when there’s no reason to.

  2. March 21, 2012, 7:05 am   /  Reply

    I just make myself dive in. When I’m nervous and scared, that’s the time to hit publish!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:07 am   /  Reply

      True, Katie. True. Just. Do. It.

  3. March 21, 2012, 7:07 am   /  Reply

    I make ’em a lot. That’s how I push past ’em. I allow myself to screw up. Then I remember grace.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:07 am   /  Reply

      I am so thankful God is all about grace. Lavish, lavish grace. There’s enough to cover all my mistakes.

  4. March 21, 2012, 7:09 am   /  Reply

    I had a mistake show on something that had been submitted. Seven pairs of eyes read the document and didn’t catch it. I hope that means people were so drawn in that they missed it but since it was on page two I doubt it, lol! Then I read an article about how these submissions must be perfect. You are right, Beth – mistakes do happen even when multiple people have looked something over. And then there are the MS Word gremlins. Don’t even get me started on them!!!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:09 am   /  Reply

      I’m an editor … I know how eyes can miss things — ’cause sometimes the eyes are mine! Rounds and rounds of edits — and an error can still slip by. It a-mazes me (and frustrates me.)

  5. March 21, 2012, 7:15 am   /  Reply

    Hey Beth! I’ve learned NOT to act in haste. This is one of my personality traits that has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count, especially if I’m responding to an email that has got me a little hot under the collar. I’m teaching myself to sit back, leave it alone, go back and re-read it. Then think about how I would want someone to respond to me in this situation. When I do make a mistake, I usually know it, and end up apologizing pretty quickly because I’m a people pleaser and I hate to think about people being annoyed or angry with me. Great food for thought today!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:10 am   /  Reply

      Great insight, Cathy. “Then think about how I would want someone to respond to me …”
      You usually can’t go wrong if you do that.

  6. March 21, 2012, 7:23 am   /  Reply

    Ah, this is something this perfectionist needs to hear over and over. I tend to beat myself up when I make mistakes. I hate them. But they’re part of life. And slowly, slowly, I’m learning. God’s gonna do a work in me, just you wait and see. Repost this in five years and let’s see where I’m at then! 😛

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:11 am   /  Reply

      Yes, ma’am. Five years. Got it.
      😉

  7. Karen S. Elliott
    March 21, 2012, 7:28 am   /  Reply

    I used to sweat bullets before I posted a blog – now, I don’t worry about it so much. I read through a few times and then ‘publish.’ Even the best editors miss stuff once in a while. And the best people. Life is full of mistakes. I have never once met a perfect person.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:12 am   /  Reply

      I’ve met people who “thought” they were perfect …

  8. Jeanne T
    March 21, 2012, 7:29 am   /  Reply

    Great post today, Beth. Mistakes. I used to hate them. Beat myself up over them. Heap self-condemnation on because I feared how others would respond as a result of my . . . mistake. I’m learning to give myself grace, move on, and when needed, make things right with those whom my mistake has affected. I’ve found forgiveness is a great salve when I need it to bring a little healing as a result of a mistake.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:12 am   /  Reply

      You know, when I posted today’s post, I didn’t see the connection between it and Monday’s post. But mistakes and forgiveness go hand in hand, don’t they?

      • Jeanne T
        March 21, 2012, 2:31 pm   /  Reply

        😉

  9. March 21, 2012, 8:01 am   /  Reply

    Remember the adage “you can’t steer a parked car”? Growing up I saw many friends and family members frozen by fear, as if gazing mutely at the mesmerizing cobra as it prepares to strike. And decided it’s better to do something, even if it’s wrong or needs repair. Most mistakes are fixable versus not doing something and not moving forward at all. Motto? It’s better to be a has been than a never was . . .

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      May I quote you, Dee?
      🙂

  10. March 21, 2012, 8:14 am   /  Reply

    Thanks for this message, Beth, one this recovering perfectionist needs to hear repeatedly. I’m learning that mistakes happen, but they aren’t the end of the world. There’s this amazing thing called grace that people are so willing to extend. Even so, I’ve been known to add second blog comments to correct typos I noticed in my original ones. Every now and then I’ll actually leave a blog without posting a needed correction to a comment I left. I count that as progress. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      I’m with you, Keli. I know all about the pull of perfectionism.

  11. March 21, 2012, 8:19 am   /  Reply

    I usually pray until I get some measure of peace. That’s how I combat fear and then I repeat over and over in my head, “It is what it is.” And oddly, that helps. LOL

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:15 am   /  Reply

      “It is what it is.”
      Ain’t that the truth.

  12. March 21, 2012, 9:47 am   /  Reply

    What a great reminder, Beth. I remember my dad’s words: “When you’re afraid of something, just turn around and face it head on.” And you know what? It’s never as scary. When I face it, my imagination isn’t playing tricks on my mind. But that first step to turn around and look at it makes me go weak at the knees!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:15 am   /  Reply

      Your dad sounds like a wise man.

  13. Loree Huebner
    March 21, 2012, 10:16 am   /  Reply

    The older I get, the more I realize how much I’ve learned from my mistakes. They are just part of the lesson plan.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 12:36 pm   /  Reply

      Mistakes = part of the lesson plan.
      Love it!
      🙂

  14. March 21, 2012, 11:19 am   /  Reply

    I remember if I die from it, I’ll be in heaven with Jesus, so it’s all good.

    Since I am famous for making mistakes, you’d think this would slow me down, but no . . .

    Honestly though, yes, I totally relate to your fear of putting words on the page for the same reasons. It will be steaming poo. No one will want to read it. Worse, someone WILL read it and run screaming through the streets telling everyone I’m a fraud and no one will ever read or listen to me ever again.

    So then we’re back to Jesus loves me and I’ll wake up in heaven soon, so I might as well give it my best shot and keep trying. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 12:37 pm   /  Reply

      Blessed assurance, eh what?

  15. Megan DiMaria
    March 21, 2012, 11:35 am   /  Reply

    I’m more likely to fear the feeling I’ll get if I don’t try something. And it’s never as bad as you think it will be. Push forward!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 12:37 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed, Megan. Agreed.

  16. March 21, 2012, 12:29 pm   /  Reply

    Love this post, Beth. As a perfectionist, I feel sick to my stomach whenever I discover I’ve made a mistake, even if it’s a misspelled word or leaving a word out of a comment I’ve made on a post. 😉 How sad is that? Hopefully I won’t reread this after it’s posted and find a mistake. No really, it helps to read others’ thoughts on making mistakes and be reminded we all make them; it’s a part of life.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 12:39 pm   /  Reply

      No mistakes, Teri. Honestly.
      And if there were, guess what? I have the ability to correct typos.
      Cool, huh?
      It’s kinda like God covering out mistakes with his grace …

  17. March 21, 2012, 1:57 pm   /  Reply

    I like what you said Beth–get on with the rest of the day. Oh and if I can, try to learn from it. If it’s an embarrassing mistake, I usually do (well after I hunker down for a few moments!) 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 3:16 pm   /  Reply

      I think everyone’s allowed a little breather after an “Ooops!” Not too much of one though, because that’s when we tend to overthink the mistake and stay out of the game.

  18. March 21, 2012, 6:44 pm   /  Reply

    Wow, Beth, talk about a divine kick in the pants. Painful as it is, it’s just what I need to hear. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 10:04 pm   /  Reply

      A divine kick in the pants … wow.
      You’re welcome.
      🙂
      What are friends for, eh?

  19. Patti Mallett
    March 22, 2012, 8:04 pm   /  Reply

    Fear used to rule my life. Been there, done that, and I ain’t going back.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 23, 2012, 12:05 am   /  Reply

      Amen.

  20. March 22, 2012, 10:20 pm   /  Reply

    As a mother of four (the youngest being a set of two year old twin boys), I am constantly worried about making a mistake in my parenting. As I have walked this mothering journey through countless lessons, endless prayers and seeking the Word of God, He has shown me that His strength truly is made perfect in my weakness – and that my mistakes are a means for Him to shine through and show me my need for a Savior. I will make mistakes, as a parent, as a wife, as a friend, as a writer, but thank God His perfection and grace cover over my mistakes and, when I let Him, He shines through my life as an example to others.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 23, 2012, 12:06 am   /  Reply

      Brava, Gabrielle.
      You’ve embraced a wonderful, life-giving truth: Motherhood: Perfection Not Required.
      It’s one of my favorite things to talk about with other moms.

  21. Crystal e
    March 23, 2012, 10:07 pm   /  Reply

    Such a great thing to see. I made 3 pretty big mistakes this week at work and am so completely stressed about it. Haven’t slept and essentially making myself sick.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 23, 2012, 10:55 pm   /  Reply

      I pray that you find rest tonight — and a sense of sweet peace.

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