I am a perfectionist. I think this behavior is a result of growing up in an angry household. I tried hard not to do anything wrong so the focus would not be on me. When I make a mistake I do way too much negative self-talk.
In support meetings I watch people laugh at themselves for mistakes they make. I realize that I would have derided myself for that same mistake. I wonder how they can be so gentle with themselves. I envy their ability to casually put off the mistake and laugh about it.
“How important is it?” helped me to see the difference between mistakes that do not really matter and other problems that need more serious effort. Maybe mistakes are more about responsibility than judgment. I am learning to not judge myself and to be as gentle with myself as I am with others.
I grew up thinking I needed to be perfect. I don’t know where I got this idea and I don’t remember anyone telling me that I needed to be perfect. My self-esteem dropped whenever I did something “wrong”, or if I unintentionally did something that hurt someone else, or if I did not anticipate what someone else needed, etc. My mistakes showed me that I was not a very good person and I felt ashamed of myself. There were many things in my past that I did not want to think about because I was embarrassed about them.
Doing my fourth step of writing down everything in my past, good and bad, was really hard for me. I put it off for many months. But, I really wanted to progress, so I finally made myself write. It took me about 18 months to finish because there was a lot I was ashamed of. This exercise turned out to be a turning point in my life. I learned that I was not as bad as I had thought and that I am doing the best I can where I am and where I was. My shortcomings and defects are plentiful, but I also have strengths. I found that I like myself and I have learned to be more comfortable with myself.
Today, I still make many mistakes. But I am trying to remember “progress, not perfection”. I am human and mortal. Humans make mistakes and that is OK. Today I try to learn from my mistakes and then let them go.