I just celebrated the success of selling a pair of hand knit cashmere socks on Earthwise Designs, my Etsy shop, and the "failed situations" comment reminded me of the first time I tried to knit. I ended up with a tangled pile of yarn that looked like something cats had been playing with for days. I felt frustrated and discouraged and wanted to give up. But being a persistant person (some have called me stubborn) I picked up the needles again, looked at the mess I had made and tried a different approach. Many attempts later, I had a piece of knitting that actually sorta resembled the picture I had in front of me. The most difficult part of this experience was dealing with the voices in my head that told me "what a piece of garbage, you'll never get it right, give it up, what a failure, stupid girl". If I had given credence to those thoughts, I would never have learned to knit, and would have missed out on a tremendous amount of joy in my life. Knitting, by the way, is a great form of meditation, and if you are local to Florida's Treasure Coast and want to learn, please email me for information on The Black Sheep Knitters. I can guarantee there will be a lot of educational mistakes.
How we deal with our mistakes determines how much we learn from them and whether or not we will continue to repeat them. When I was teaching in a lecture format, I would tell stories to encourage people to laugh because people are more likely to take in new information when they are in a good mood. The first time I heard someone say "oh, good I made a mistake; I'm getting ready to learn something!", I thought they were nuts. But wasn't it sweet to embrace an error with such enthusiastic appreciation instead of the doom and gloom I learned growing up? So I tried it, and lo and behold, the more mistakes I made with that attitude, the more I learned, and the less likely I was to repeat the same mistake again. There was nothing "wrong" with me because I made a mistake; I was just getting ready to learn something.
Cognitive restructuring, changing the internal thinking process, is a proven way to change both attitude and behavior. Thinking of unpleasant experiences as "failures" tends to make us reluctant to try again and invites feelings of discouragement and self doubt. Reframing those experiences as "lessons" or "opportunities" encourages us to move forward, to be creative, to find a way to manifest our heart's desires, whether it be knitting a sweater, or finding that great job, or building your dream home. Choosing to replace our self defeating thought patterns with conversations that support positive change is similar to knitting in that it requires both discipline and attention, and really is pretty easy if you give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. And they both invite you to vibrate at an emotional level of joy and acceptance that leads to bigger and better things.