Why Do We Fear Mistakes?

We are scared of everything. We are as scared of gluten as we are of ISIS. We are turning into people who are afraid to make mistakes.

photo credit: Leo Hidalgo via creative commons

photo credit: Leo Hidalgo via creative commons

You can’t order coffee without receiving it in a cup with writing all over it informing you it’s hot. We can’t order food without being informed of all of the allergies which someone could have a reaction to if they ate the food. Have you ever learned anything from doing something the right way? Have you learned anything about yourself when things went your way and everything worked out exactly the way you had hoped? There are certain situations in which that may have happened, but most of the time we learn by doing something wrong. We learn by making mistakes. The only way to get better is to make sure you are putting yourself out there and taking a risk. We are incredible at pointing out others downfalls. We are energized by it. We are sharks swimming toward blood ready to latch on to the wounded and defenseless.

We watch documentaries and swear we won’t eat out ever again. Then we get hungry and go to Wendy’s. We swear next month we will get back in shape. We look into gyms to join and diets to start but we end up putting it off again and again. Meanwhile we get on Twitter or Facebook and like and favorite snarky comments and laugh at people who have made mistakes so we don’t have to focus on the failures of our own life. It may sound raw and cruel but if you look at the reality of your life you will probably see some truth in it. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I will eat a bowl of ice cream while making fun of someone for being overweight and unhealthy.

The reaction to Cecil the Lion’s death was what started my realization of this. Obviously a wrong was done. It was a tragic event. Try to put that out of your mind and just think about the reaction. Reading about it you would assume the dentist from Minnesota was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Someone posted a sign on his office stating, “rot in hell.” His life is over. His family has had their life ruined. The people he employed lost their job. If you think about it you have probably done something which could have resulted in as much scrutiny as he has received. You likely didn’t get caught and you likely justify it by saying others have done worse or done the same thing. We all could be in the same situation he’s in. Is that a world we want to live in? I’m not sure it matters because I think it is our reality and I don’t see it changing.

I believe this causes a bigger issue. We want to avoid mistakes at all costs so we live as safely as possible. We don’t take risks in our career, we don’t pursue passions, we don’t do anything to rock the boat because we know if we do nothing risky at all, we will not face criticism. We can sit back and rely on cynicism to numb our pain.

The reason we fear mistakes is because we constantly live in fear of being the one who everyone is laughing at. We stand on the sidelines and watch as the chastisement of others is put on full display and sometimes we participate in it.

Do something that matters. Don’t let fear or the potential embarrassment of failure hold you back.