Why my mistakes are not me

Have you noticed how people use shaming language?

Let me explain.

A small child is struggling to do something which is beyond their age related ability to complete. An impatient parent grabs the item from them saying: “You are so useless, I’ll do it”.

A child in school forgets to write their name on their exam paper. The teacher hands the other students their papers and announces in a loud voice that xx is a failure yet again because they didn’t put their name on their paper.

You make a mistake and your self talk immediately tells you how useless you are for making that mistake.

SHAMING LANGUAGE MAKES YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE USELESS

Can you relate to any of these examples?

I sure can.

How do you respond to the shaming of these examples and other incidents?

Do you believe those words are true and you are shameful? Do you then try to suppress those feelings of shame?

CHANGING THE LANGUAGE OF SHAME

What if instead of shaming and suppressing you changed the language?

What if you reframed those words instead?

Instead of:

• “You are useless” because you made a mistake. Try “I made a mistake”

• “you are so stupid” because you did something you think is wrong try “that was not the best idea” or “that idea didn’t work. What else can I try?”.

• “Why does this happen to me?” Try “Oh this is interesting, what can I learn from this?”

• “Why can’t I do this?” Try “how can I make this work?”

• “Why is this happening?” Try “what can I do to change this?”

• “How could they do this to me?” Try “how can I use this?”

• “Why can’t I make enough money?” Try “how can I add more value?”

• “Why is there never enough time?” Try “what can I alter to fit in these things I really want in my life.”

• “I am so useless, I don’t know how to do this”. Try “I don’t know how to do this, who can I ask for help?”

QUESTIONING THE LANGUAGE OF SHAME

When those thoughts pop into your head try asking yourself:

• Is it true? (Am I really stupid?)

• Is it sensible? (to think I am stupid)

• Is it helpful? (to say this about me – short answer NO)

After you have established what you have just said is not true, sensible or helpful, try reframing it.

REVIEWING THE THINGS YOU DO TO SEE THE POSITIVE ACTIONS

When you do something, it can be really helpful to review how it went. Next time try asking yourself these questions?

• What went well?

• What can be done differently next time?

• Is there anything I need to ask someone about, or learn more about?

I AM NOT MY ACTIONS

Don’t buy into shaming yourself. You are human which means you make mistakes. You don’t always know how to do anything. You don’t always get things right. The mistakes you make are not you they are just actions.

As a child once told her teacher – I am not messy I am making a mess. (Brené Brown).

There is a distinction.

One is wrong (I am messy) and one is right (I am making a mess).

Make sure your self talk switches to the statement that is right.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you learn to see yourself as the wonderful person you are, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

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