Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Make Mistakes–Pretty Please!!

I have been surrounded in the past few weeks by reminders about how important mistakes are to the process of being human.  While listening to the audiobook “As You Wish,” I was struck when author Cary Elwes describes a quote from his father: “It is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.”  And over the weekend, I heard famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson say that “any day I make a mistake is a good day, because then I have learned something.”

Both of these statements make me intensely happy.  And the reason that they make me happy is that they reflect a truth that I try to convey to my clients on a daily basis:

[tbpquotable] Mistakes aren’t failure. They are an essential part of being a healthy, growing human being.[/tbpquotable]

In a world where we are graded from an early age, with the possibility that our online mistakes might live with us forever, it can get easy to be swept up into the story of why mistakes are dangerous.  We can buy into the idea that a mistake says something about our essential worth.  That idea make us so paralyzed by our fear of making mistakes that we stop doing anything.

I want to call BS on that idea.  There is no skill that we have, from crawling to talking to writing our names, that we haven’t acquired after intensive practice. And that practice included mistake after mistake.  Mistakes that brought us one movement closer to mastery.  Human learning and growth is entirely a process of moving from mistake to competence.

During the month of February, I participated in the Real Happiness daily meditation challenge from Sharon Salzburg.  I appreciated the reminder that she often shared that distractions are chances to change how we interact with ourselves. Distractions aren’t failure. They provide the opportunity to shift from frustration with our mistakes to kind acceptance and redirection back to the meditation.

This compassionate, gentle outlook is such a lovely way to view mistakes.  And if you can bring that compassion to other parts of life, then you have the chance to begin taking action, happening to the world, and moving closer to healthy, connected lives.

So today, I would love to invite you to make some mistakes.  I’ll be there right along with you.  In fact, today, I am trying to master knitting a hat in the round.  I can promise that many mistakes will be made along the way.  I’m not sure that I will end up with anything vaguely resembling a hat.  I’ll post a picture of the results in the comments later for you.  Feel free to share your mistake-making adventures in the comments too.

And if you are feeling paralyzed by the possibility of a mistake, maybe I can help with that.  You can reach me by clicking that appointment button to your right.

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The Balancing Act of “Being Safe”

One of pieces of my practice mission is to create and hold safe space for my clients.

Coming to therapy is a big step. And it isn’t one that people tend to take unless they are facing some pretty significant disruption or pain. By the time someone is sitting down with me, it isn’t unusual for them to have been through a lot of difficult stuff. They have faced hurt or betrayal in their relationships, or they have endured significant loss. For some of my clients, those patterns of loss and hurt have repeated multiple times throughout their lives.

Read more here.

Ride the Vacuum Cleaner

I actually had a different post planned for this week, but I was driving home last night and I caught part of an interview with film director, Ken Burns, who is part of the documentary series inspired by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s powerful book “The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer.” The interviewer was asking Mr. Burns what pulled him toward this subject. Mr. Burns revealed that his mother had coped with cancer throughout much of his early childhood, and had eventually died when he was eleven. He stated that he felt as though every day of his life since then has been impacted by cancer. (Right about now, you might be wondering why I am talking to you about a film director. Hang on. I’m getting there. I promise.)

Mr. Burns said that the thought of cancer as something frightening, and shared a story from his family. He explained how his daughter, when she was very little, was terrified of the vacuum cleaner. He said that her terror persisted, until one day, she walked into the room with the loud, scary monster–and sat on it. He explained that, to this day in their family, when they talk about doing something that is scary, they say it’s time to “ride the vacuum cleaner.”

I love that analogy. It is such a good fit for our real life. Because there are a lot of things that feel large, scary, and overwhelming to us. Much like a vacuum cleaner would look and feel if you were a small child.

Finish reading this post here.

Road Less Traveled


I’ll be visiting my sister and her family next week over our spring break. They live in Virginia, and we’ll be driving. It’s a bit over 1000 miles from my house to hers.

I’ve been fascinated this week by people’s responses when I say we’ll be driving. They range from pity to horror to plain old disbelief.

I often say that it’s easier to drive with kids, that we have more control over our trip. I think that those things are true. But that’s not really why we drive.

We drive because we like to drive. Because the experience of being on the road gives us a chance to explore, to see new things, to take back country “highways.” Because we can stop at whatever interesting thing we want. Driving leaves us the chance to have adventures.

And that has gotten me thinking. How often in your day to day lives do you miss the chance for adventure? How often do you continue through the steps of your routine, driving the same way you did yesterday, following the same rules, seeing the same sights?

It is easy to get into routines. In fact, our brains encourage it. Routines require less mental investment than new behaviors do. Routines allow you to check out, to multitask. And sometimes, routines are a life-saver. Routines for handling work, and school planning make mornings much more pleasant. Routines in hospitals help prevent errors.

I’m not knocking routines. I appreciate mine–they’ve taken a lot of time and effort to develop.

Even though your brain likes routines and habits, sometimes it needs the challenge of something new.

And, while routines can serve a valuable role in your daily tasks and responsibilities, they can also keep you stuck.

So, my question for you today is this: when was the last time you took a risk, stepped outside of your comfort zone and walked down that “less traveled road?” You don’t need to take on a 2000 mile road trip to do it. That’s how I roll, but it might be extreme for some folks.

Instead you could try shaking things up in small ways:

  • Drive a different path to work than normal.
  • Find a park or local attraction that you’ve never visited.
  • Play a game you’ve never tried.
  • Reach out to a new friend.
  • Try a new activity (art class, fitness class, cooking–you name it)
  • Eat food you’ve never tried before.

You don’t need to get extreme, but I challenge you to build some adventure into your week. And if you’d like to share it here–I’d love that!

Gratitude and Cocoons

I wanted to pause this week and thank each of you who reads this blog, comments, pins, or shares it. The blog is really my labor of love for my clients and for the larger community. It is my space, an extension of my office, an extension of my mind. Sometimes we talk big stuff here, like health stigma and healthy privilege. Sometimes we talk about the very small acts of self-care and coping that build healthy foundations.

What happens here is growing, changing, and evolving.

And a lot of that is because of you.

Thanks for being the other partner in this writing dance.

I hope next year includes even more growth and change. I’m sure you’ll hear more about the #InnoPsy project. I’m pretty fired up about getting psychologists into the larger discussion about healthcare and mental health issues overall. And I’d love to hear even more of your voices.

But before we get to that–I have two weeks that I can spend with a very new nephew. He doesn’t live near me, and he’s already growing so fast. And what that means is that I’ll be pretty quiet online these next two weeks. Not so many blog posts, not so much Twitter activity. I’ll be in a little cocoon of family and reflection time. I might hide it well in my online life, but I’m a pretty strong introvert, so that cocoon time is important for rejuvenating me as we head into the new year. I draw my strength and energy from that space.

So, I’ll be cuddling babies and baking. I hope that you are doing activities that bring you joy, connection, and meaning. And I’ll see you on the flip side of the cocoon!

Thanks again for coming along with me.

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