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Oops! I Did It Again!

September 20, 2012

I don’t really know how to start this post, so I will just jump right in and say it: I don’t believe that there are really any true mistakes that happen in our lives. ok. Blog entry complete. Goodnight everyone!

Oh wait, I should probably explain what I mean, eh? Well, this concept has been on my mind quite a bit this past summer, and now, during the 10 Days of Repentance, it is even more prevalent in my thoughts. Let me say it again – there are no real mistakes. The more that I think about this, the more I believe it with my whole heart. I’m sure that many people will be able to come up with many specific examples of why my theory is wrong, and that’s ok… it’s just a theory!

So let me explain. There are no mistakes. There are poor choices. There are less-than-desirable outcomes. There are inappropriate behaviours. There are even down-right awful circumstances… and yet, no mistakes. We’ve all heard it before – the saying goes something like “be thankful for every moment from your past, as each of those moments has brought you to the present moment” (or something). Well, ya! That’s obvious! But what if we don’t like where we are in the present moment? How easy it can be to say that it is because of our mistakes that we are in the situation that we are in now. Blame blame blame.

So then, what if I’m right (hard to imagine!) that there are no mistakes. Nothing that we did to bring us to our current condition was a mistake… it was exactly what we needed in one way or the other. Sometimes this “re-framing” is obvious – take a wrong turn when driving somewhere and find a beautiful mountain view that you would have missed had you not taken that turn… That one’s easy to see – it wasn’t a “mistake” because something beautiful came out of it, but what if you take a wrong turn and only proceed to get incredibly lost? Is it a mistake then? Well, as I see it, still no. So you made a wrong turn – big deal! You probably found out a lot about yourself in that situation – your ability to find your way when you’re lost, or your deep reservoirs of patience that you didn’t realize that you had, or your tenacity, etc etc etc. And what if you freaked out, had a temper-tantrum and needed a search-party to come and find you? Well, were you able to access your ability to ask for help? Or were you reminded that there are people out there that care enough to rescue you? Or, at the very least, did you learn about a turn in the road you should absolutely not take again?

Ok – yes. Kind of an extreme example, but the point is this. Thinking of our actions as “mistakes” leads to negative self-talk, thoughts of failure and inadequacies. Yes, I do believe that it is important to admit when we are wrong, but admitting it is useless if we don’t then learn from it and change.

Now I know that this sounds a lot like “every cloud has a silver lining” – and yes, I believe that is true as well, but it’s not quite what I’m getting at. It’s not even “there’s a lesson to be learned in everything” which I also believe. It is the idea that mistakes simply don’t happen. There’s a reason why we do the things that we do. We don’t always know the reason, but it’s there. We may not understand it, yet, but everything that we do and say comes with its blessings (in disguise sometimes!) and we are SUPPOSED to be experiencing whatever we’re experiencing. We NEED to learn the lessons. It is given to us.

Sometimes we may think that it is a “mistake” to spend time with a certain person… no… we’re supposed to spend time with them, supposed to have those uneasy feelings, if only to learn what it feels like to be around someone that isn’t good for us. Sometimes we may think it’s a “mistake” to speak or behave in a certain way…no…we’re supposed to speak or behave that way, if only to learn that there are better, more productive ways to speak and behave in the future.

Make any sense?

So then, what does this have to do with the days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Well, I can tell you for sure that it doesn’t mean that we need not apologize or repent. Quite the opposite. We absolutely need to recognize where we fell short, made poor decisions, or did things that hurt others. We need to apologize for hurting others, and we need to forgive those who have hurt us. I think that saying “I made a mistake” actually is a way of absolving ourselves of responsibility – “It’s no big deal! I made a mistake! Everyone makes mistakes!” – Yes. We all slip up. We all “miss the mark” but we can’t apologize truly and with our whole soul if we just say “well, it was a mistake.” Mistakes don’t happen, remember? We choose behaviours, we choose words. We need to apologize for how we’ve hurt others. That doesn’t mean that our poor choices are entirely negative. We know that our actions have consequences – both good and bad – and I can’t call anything that has any kind of positive outcome a “mistake.” Even if the only “positive” that you can see from something that you did is that you are now able to humbly apologize… well, there’s your lesson. Inner strength. Humility. Self-awareness. And showing your vulnerability and genuine humanity to another….I think those are all pretty amazing “consequences.”

I’m not sure if this makes sense to anyone else, but it is very meaningful to me. It makes it very difficult to regret anything when you can see that there are no mistakes, just zig-zags and curve-balls in life. Zig-zags and curve-balls that are there to move us forward down our own spiritual journeys. Zig-zags and curve-balls that are given to each one of us, right when we need to learn from them the most (although we may not like it!). Regret, like guilt, is a pretty energy-sucking emotion… but if you realize that there are no mistakes, just outcomes that you may not have thought you wanted, then regret and guilt can begin to fade away. So instead of saying “Oops! I made a mistake!” how about “Oh! I wonder why I did that?” I think you’ll be surprised by what you find.

Wishing you light and love


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One Comment
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