We all make mistakes. Is useless to try avoiding them because are part of our lives. In fact, thanks to them we can step back, restructure our beliefs and grow. Anyway, errors only allow us to grow when we use them as a tool for change.
On the contrary, those who have a negative perception of errors remain attached to them. If we are wrong and don’t learn the lesson, we will continue making those mistakes or get blocked because of the sense of guilt.
Therefore, one of the most useful techniques we can learn in life is a simple exercise of NLP developed by Robert Dilts. The exercise is based on recognizing the lessons we can get from our mistakes. Consists in examining, with particular attention, what is the positive part of that behavior that at the beginning looks so negative.
This exercise is based on the idea that, although at first we may not be aware of it, all the decisions we make at a given point in our lives, are the most appropriate. This doesn’t mean that mistakes do not have negative consequences, if we are wrong is likely that we harm ourselves or others, but it is a learning process that will turn us into better people. If we take profit of it.
7 Steps to turn mistakes and bad habits into useful learning
1. Find a behavior that you like to change, one of those things you do often but then repent of. It means you have to find that habit that makes you feel bad and you would like to get rid of. However, focus on something relatively simple, don’t start with the most complex habits or those who have been in place for years.
2. Ask yourself what are the limiting beliefs related to that behavior. What beliefs are at the base of the habit and support it? Basically, try to answer honestly the question: why I do what I do?
3. Think about the negative behavior you’ve chosen. What are the negative consequences and why do you feel bad? Examine the effects on yourself and the people around you. Don’t lie to yourself, analize what you don’t like of that habit.
4. Amplifies the negative feeling. Most people avoid negative emotions, it is what is known as experiential avoidance. However, you have precisely to amplify those feelings: What is the worst case scenario you can imagine? How bad could you feel? How much guilt would you experience? The idea is to increase the feelings in excess, until they become paradoxical or downright impossible.
5. Find the positive intention of the behavior. In general, any errors or bad habit has at its base a positive intention, you have only to find it. For example, the fact of losing your temper and speak out loud may indicate that you need to be heard, you need to express an opinion and don’t know another way to do it. Understanding the positive intention of the behavior will help you look at it from another perspective.
6. Identify the positive outcome of your “error”. Basically, it's about finding the utility of this error. At first it may be a paradoxical and difficult exercise to understand, because in our minds we have labeled the behavior as negative and don’t conceive the idea that it can be linked to something positive. Therefore, it is important to take your time and think that most of our behavior hide a profit. For example, speaking out loud and get angry could make that others listen to us when normally they don’t.
7. Experience once again the error while in a positive state of mind. This is an important step, and perhaps one of the most difficult, because the key is to relive that error or bad habit, but from an unprejudiced attitude and free of criticism. To do this, it is recommended that you first enter into a positive state of mind in which you feel comfortable, for which it can help meditation, and then imagine you repeat that behavior but reacting in a different way, without feeling bad about it or blaming yourself because you made a mistake or you’ve been weak again. The idea is to delve into how you react when you are not a victim of your emotions. So you’ll have a small script to follow the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.
Finally, you just have to absorb what you’ve learned. And don’t expect everything to change overnigh, be patient. You will improve as you repeat the exercise.
How to turn errors into tools for change
4/ 5Oleh Jennifer Delgado