We often hear that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes, and it’s true in many cases. When a toddler touches a hot stove, they learn very quickly that a hot stove equals ouch! We never really stop learning as we get older, and a big part of the learning process is trial by error.
Here are some of the biggest life lessons that we can learn from our mistakes if we are open and honest with ourselves:
1. They teach us to take responsibility.
When something goes awry, it’s easy to blame other people or even the universe for conspiring against us. But more often than not, our own actions contributed in some part to the problem.
Though it may be true that someone else did make a mistake or do something wrong, the way we acted or reacted may have been a factor, as well. Maybe the way we handled the situation made it worse, or maybe we contributed in ways that we aren’t even immediately aware of.
One of the main principles of kabbalistic teachings is: Take responsibility – for everything! Even if you can find no wrongdoing in what has occurred, taking responsibility takes you out of victim mentality and keeps you firmly planted in the driver’s seat where you can remain proactive and a creative force. You simply cannot learn the lessons the universe is trying to teach you when you’re stuck in victim mode.
Taking responsibility is so empowering because it means that we can stop feeling like the world is working against us, and start focusing on solutions.
2. They teach us that we are not perfect.
Failure is an important part of life, not to mention a vital component of our spiritual development. Karen Berg, the Spiritual Director of The Kabbalah Centre, is often quoted as saying, “We all make mistakes. That’s why God put erasers on pencils.”
In short, we are not meant to be perfect. A mistake can be a blow to the ego, keeping us humble and grounded. It can show us what we need to work on and reminds us that we still have a long way to go.
3. They help us transform ourselves for the better.
Though our mistakes may keep us humble, it’s also easy to get down on ourselves because of them. Sometimes we dwell on mistakes we’ve made, even years later. And while we cannot change the things we have done in the past, we can use them to learn how to move forward.
If you were to go on a job interview and the interviewer asked a particularly difficult question that you fumbled your way through, you probably would remember that question for your next interview and would have a great answer prepared for it. The mistake was actually a lesson that pushed you to be an even better candidate.
Each mistake and every lesson we learn helps us develop into even better versions of ourselves.
4. They teach us the importance of having our intentions in the right place.
We can’t always prevent things from going wrong. Sometimes we just make honest mistakes. However, it’s important to ask ourselves if we were really trying to do the right thing or just trying to take advantage of a situation for our own benefit.
Mistakes can sometimes be a sign that our intentions aren’t in the right place. They often happen when we are being lazy, unfocused, or uncommunicative. When we cheat on a test and get caught, we learn the consequences of not being prepared and of breaking the rules. It shows us the value of having integrity in our actions.
It’s important to ask ourselves if our consciousness is set in the right direction. Consciousness is everything. It influences all of our actions and choices we make throughout the day. When we aren’t acting from a place of selflessness and integrity, our actions can contribute to small errors that ultimately become bigger issues down the road.
5. They allow us to relate to others.
Now that we understand no one is perfect and mistakes are a universal part of everyone’s personal growth, we are better able to understand when someone else makes a mistake. We know what it’s like to be careless or unprepared, so we can put ourselves in their shoes. Our past mistakes can help us empathize with another’s journey, and also to offer advice based on what we have learned from our own trials.
Think about the inspiring stories of people who have overcome incredible obstacles. They probably made mistakes and stumbled along the way, but they kept getting back up and fighting for a better tomorrow. Our mistakes can inspire, enlighten, and motivate others in powerful way.
In this way, we can learn to see what is perhaps the most profound spiritual truth of all: That there really are no mistakes. We learn such valuable lessons from our mistakes that it’s worth considering them opportunities – to learn, grow, and share with others.
Sometimes we don’t understand why things go wrong, but remember that the Creator has a hand in everything, even our mistakes. Each mistake, if we let it, can lead us to something better; a better version of ourselves, a better version of our lives, and a better version of the world.