Friday, October 29, 2010

How often... you beat yourself up?

Weird question, I know. I ask because I find I beat myself up a lot. And it's never a fair fight. Whenever I screw something up, which is quite often, I tend to take it to heart and question all of my abilities. What's wrong with me? How could I make that mistake? Why didn't I do this or that differently? Is everything I've done since also wrong in some way?

It's miserable and counterproductive, and yet I can't stop sometimes. I hate beating myself up, yet I often feel like I need to be beat up a little bit, to take my lumps because just picking myself up, dusting myself off and walking away from a mistake with my head held high seems so…arrogant. Shouldn’t we suffer at least a little humility when we make a mistake?

I have to admit I envy people who can let mistakes roll off them like water. They don't sweat it, they don't fret, they don't feel bad for a moment. They don't waste any time beating themselves up, no mental black eyes or bloody noses for them. They just move on – sometimes to the next mistake, but at least they're moving.

Meanwhile, I'm the one in the ring with the gloves on trying to knock myself out.

When you make a mistake, large or small, do you beat yourself up or let it roll off you and move on?


Anonymous said...

I beat myself up.

And then I obsess over it.

And then I beat myself up some more.

Like you, I'm jealous of those who can just roll with the punches.

Anonymous said...

Don’t beat yourself up, because there are way worse mistakes and people in the world. But do ask yourself questions when you make mistakes.
Every time I screw up, I do put myself under heavy inspection and I do ask myself those questions (your “What's wrong with me? How could I make that mistake? Why didn't I do this or that differently? Is everything I've done since also wrong in some way?”) But it’s done very dispassionately.
Try that, and if you can’t dispassionately reflect on your mistakes, it is still better to beat yourself up than to ignore your mistakes. I don’t envy, I scorn those people who overlook their mistakes.

(Happy November! I’m just someone who reads your books.)

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Anonymous #1 - I forgot about the obsessing part. It's only half as much fun/torment if you don't obsess as well.

Anonymous #2 - Thanks for reading my books and my blog and for the kind words. I do try to look at my mistakes through the logical, dispassionate lens, but of course, being the obsessor, when I come up with an logical solution, such as -maybe I'm making mistakes because I'm tired or stressed or secretly sabotaging my own success, I tend to tell myself those are just excuses and not real reasons. I need to look dispassionately at my obsessing - but first I probably need to obsess on why I can't look at my obsessing dispassionately. Sigh.