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I think "Question what we think" ...

Posted Mar 09 2009 3:38pm

I think "Question what we think" is a great Bumper Sticker of The Week for this week. And I'd add to it: "Question what we think even though it's scary to do." Because we know that's why we're hesitant to question ourselves- we're afraid of what information we might find out.

On a different note, and there's probably a Bumper Sticker of The Week in here somewhere also, I wonder if there's a way for us to reframe what Ann calls a "mistake." I know exactly what you're talking about, Ann, and it sounds like you are doing some great work on yourself.

Calling an event/thought/action a mistake has a certain connotation- negative. And it also can lead
to perfectionistic thinking (as in, "if I were only perfect I wouldn't make any mistakes" or "mistakes are the opposite of doing something right").

What if we think of whatever happens as an opportunity to be honest with ourselves and to do our work. And what if we anticipate (predict even) that an assortment of things (good, not so good, hard, easy, big, small...) will happen that will offer us opportunities to do our work.

I'm not saying there aren't such things as mistakes in life. Clearly, 2 + 2 is not 37, and I'm mistaken if I think it is. And I think there's a way to use the word mistake literally without it carrying a judgmental slant- but we have to be very careful about using that word, just like we do when we use the word should. Both of these can be so loaded with judgement.

One of my favorite images is of a mom walking her 2 or 3 year old child down a sidewalk. The child, thrilled to have the freedom to be out roaming, veers all over the place as he explores. Not surprisingly, he often gets too close to the street. Now, technically, we could call this a "mistake" on the child's part (in a literal sense I mean: it's a mistake to be too close to moving cars), but wouldn't it be the most useful for the mom to use the event as a "teaching moment" where she can simultaneously provide a gentle course correction for her kid and instruct him about what happens when we get too close to a street? 

I think we do better in relation to ourselves if we treat ourselves like this child- he's just doing his job, being out exploring the world, and as he gathers information he makes adjustments, and continues his exploration. In this context, he doesn't make mistakes, he only gathers further information and perpetuates his learning and growth.
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