Take the lesson, ignore the shame

Learning is easy for the most part. You flush the toilet while someone is showering, and they shriek after getting bombarded with cold water. You drink too much liquor, you feel like garbage the next morning. Experience is a very straightforward teacher.

Unfortunately, the world makes it more complicated. Triumph is celebrated with praise and trophies, but mistakes are hit with the cold, prickly shower of shame. Often, what makes mistakes so painful is the embarrassment or humiliation, not the actual mistake or misstep itself.

This is natural. We’re social creatures, after all. However, not only do we have to go back and apologize, or fix what we broke; we also have to carry the red stain of the mistake as well.

In some instances, this may be a good thing. Having a health scare can be beneficial to truly learning the important of a healthier lifestyle. That awful feeling you get after receiving an email from your bank regarding your overdraft can teach you better spending habits.

On the other hand, did poor grades convince you that you’re stupid, or just not a (insert class here) person? Does making many mistakes at something make you think you’re not cut out for it, and keep you from trying? Is the fear of looking stupid making you look stupid?

The truth is, emotions play a part in learning, but negative emotions put a wall between you and your wisdom. Most of the time, the lesson is simple. But humiliation, guilt, or shame adds a thick layer of fog to your learning, and makes you look at yourself through a distorted mirror.

If a relationship ends, what hurts more? Getting dumped or realizing that you didn’t put forth enough effort. The average person likely spends more energy internalizing the shame and negative emotions from a breakup, rather than piecing together the bigger, and more useful lesson.

Most importantly, the same applies to the bigger issues in life as well.

Remember, your self defeating ghosts will follow you until you lay them to rest. Avoiding the emotional burden of mistakes robs us of the lesson that the experience provides. Consequently, these types of bad experiences will continue to happen, and will form a long-term pattern until you learn. 

Likewise, many of the wisest men and women are people who can look back on their life experiences without becoming embroiled in the emotional debt of their pain or mistakes.

How much easier would your life be if you simply gathered your life lessons, and spared yourself the shame?

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