“I didn’t do it” is the children’s mantra, a phrase they learn right away as soon as they realize that when they make a mistake they are punished. For some strange reason, some people continue to repeat this sentence even by adults. Maybe they do not repeat it aloud, but it continues to echo in their mind: “It’s not my fault, it’s the fault of the others”.
The problem is that if it is true that denying the mistake you are more likely to avoid the consequences, it is just as true that it prevents you from growing and maturing. Every mistake brings with it the seed of learning, but because this germinates is necessary to assume the mistakes.
3 ways to deal with mistakes that prevent us from growing
A very interesting study conducted at the universities of New York and California revealed that the way we assume our mistakes is closely related to our personality and our growth potential.
These psychologists have analyzed thousands of people to identify the types of personalities that predominate in reaction to mistakes. So they concluded that 70% of the population can be divided into three main groups:
1. The blame is on others
These people continue to repeat the sentence they used to be children: “I didn’t do it”. When they make a mistake they try to discharge the responsibility on someone else. Obviously, these people can’t learn from their own mistakes simply because they do not recognize them and are not sufficiently mature. They tend to put themselves on defensive in front of every attempt of criticism, even constructive, and often adopt a victimistic attitude.
2. Error. Which error? Nothing happened here
These are people who come to deny the existence of the error, and this often turns the others angry. This person, even confronted with the evidence, will not only deny his or her involvement in the matter, but will also try to convince us that nothing has happened. This way of dealing with mistakes means that the person expects to be forgiven for whatever he or she does, and is unwilling to acknowledge his or her faults and the damage he or she may cause to others. Obviously, assuming this attitude is impossible that he or she will learn from his pr her mistakes and correct them.
3. It’s my fault
These people assume a diametrically opposed attitude: intonate the mea culpa to the slightest problem. The point is that they often blame themselves for everything that happens and can also assume responsibilities that are not theirs. They tend to judge themselves severely and often pass on self-flagging without any need. However, these people also learn a lot from their mistakes as they automatically recognize the responsibility because of a sense of visceral guilt that probably was instilled in them during childhood, but this does not imply a reflective analysis of their involvement and responsibility in the situation.
The error is a learning opportunity: You decide whether to take advantage of it or not
Most people do not recognize their mistakes for fear or shame, or because it makes them feel weak and incompetent. That’s because our society has surrounded the mistakes with a negative halo making us believe that intelligent, competent and capable people are never wrong.
But mistakes are part of life and offer lessons that allow us to improve as persons, but only if we are able to recognize and willing to correct them. As Confucius said, “The man who made a mistake and does not correct it makes another mistake even bigger”.
Therefore, even if going wrong may not be the most enjoyable feeling in the world, it is even worse to miss this opportunity to learn.
Dattner, B. & Hogan, R. (2011) Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure? En: Harvard Bussiness Review.