How to stop obsessing over your mistakes - The Self-Worth Experiment

How to stop obsessing over your mistakes

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth

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Oct 10
How to stop obsessing over your mistakes

Yesterday I had a meeting at a hospital about an hour away from home. And I had to drive there!

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for a while, you know that I suffered from colossal driving anxiety only a few years ago. And I didn’t get my first car (a funky orange Ford Fiesta called Cecil), until I was 28 years old.

I now believe myself to be a competent driver. However, going somewhere I’ve never been before still makes me nervous.

But with the mantra "feel the fear and do it anyway", I set off. And all went well.

Until I arrived at the hospital and the Satnav told me to turn left. Which I did.

A bit too early.

Finding myself in the "Strictly for ambulances only" entrance of the hospital. In a slight panic, I searched for a way out, while the SatNav blared "Perform a U-turn when possible".

As if to mock me in my distress.

I ended up turning around in front of the emergency department entrance. Hanging my head in shame as patients, paramedics and doctors witnessed me blocking the ambulance access.

I escaped eventually and found my way into the main patient and visitor car park.

And as I sat in my car, breathing a big sigh of relief, I realised something astonishing.

The surprising non-consequences of my screw-up

Only a few years ago, this monumental screw up would have consumed my thoughts, ruminated endlessly in my mind, robbed my inner peace and destroyed my emotional balance.

I would have worried whether the driver behind me thought I was a complete idiot when I turned into the ambulance lane. Mortified by the anticipated judgement of the people watching me turn around in front of the emergency department.

For days, I would have obsessed about it. Replayed my stupid, embarrassing mistake over and over again with ever increasing horror and self-condemnation. Beat myself up for being such a ridiculous fool.

For not knowing what all the other people knew.

The one bad experience would have left me anxious or even unwilling to ever drive somewhere new again. And I would have concluded, once again, that I just wasn’t good enough to get anything right.

But not this time.

I was calm and relaxed. And quite proud of myself for making it there on my own. Happily munching on my lunch sandwich while waiting for my meeting to start. I didn’t beat myself up! I didn’t obsess over the incidence.

Simply because I exchanged 4 devastating lies with 4 uplifting truths.

The 4 disastrous reasons why you can’t stop obsessing over your mistakes

Ten years ago, I would have believed that self-condemnation, shame and self-punishment were appropriate reactions to my mortifying mistake. Because I bought into a society-imposed version of "reality" that could not be further from the truth!

These conditioned limiting beliefs keep us stuck in unhappiness. And they are the reasons why you can’t stop obsessing over your mistakes.

1. We are inherently worthless

As a society, we buy into the doctrine that we are born without worth. We are empty vessels, devoid of value, worthless by default. Yet, feeling worthy and valuable is a basic human need. Which is why we spend most of our energy, effort and time gaining worth through accumulation of achievements, successes, possessions and positive contributions to society.

2. Our worth is fragile, fleeting, volatile

As such, we believe that, when we do well, our worth increases. Hence, we feel good about ourselves. When we perform badly, our worth is diminished. As a result, we feel horrible about ourselves. Because we are convinced that we can’t hold on to that hard-earned worth. It dissolves between our fingers like an ice cube in the summer heat with every mistake we make.

3. People have to approve of us and our actions for us to have worth

We think that any disapproval, criticism and judgement of other people obliterates our worth. So, we desperately seek their approval and acceptance. Trying to be faultless, pleasing others so they like us. Never objecting, opposing or disappointing. A horrendous mistake, like my ambulance entrance disaster, with others witnessing it, would cost us approval. And thus worth.

4. We aren’t good enough to have worth.

We make mistakes. All the time. People disapprove of us. All the time.

And it causes us pain, heartache and upset. We hate ourselves for not being good enough to hold on to our pathetic bit of worth. Obsessing over our failures to punish ourselves for our weakness, inadequacy. And worthlessness.

All because we learned to believe that every mistake diminishes our fragile worth. Makes us worth less.

And because we already feel inferior to basically everybody else, any mistake is a soul-crushing disaster, plummeting us even further into the black abyss of unworthiness.

The 4 inspiring truths that will make you stop obsessing over your mistakes

Over the years, I was able to identify these misconceptions and eradicate their impact on my life. Simply by realising the truth:

1. I AM worth
One of the most essential truths is that we can never HAVE worth. Because we ARE worth. Literally, physically, absolutely. Every one of us IS worth personified. We don’t have to be perfect, do everything right or know it all. We ARE worth. Regardless of our failures, mistakes or humiliations.

2. What other people think of me is none of my business
Other people’s disapproval, judgement or mockery can never obliterate our worth because it is an unchangeable, inherent part of our Being.

And, let’s face it, most of the judgement we anticipate is assumed. The people in the emergency department might not even have noticed me. Not wasted a thought on my mistake.

And even if they had judged me as the most moronic idiot-dumbass they had ever seen, it wouldn’t have changed a bit about my worth.

Why would it?

3. My worth is permanent, stable and strong
Our worth is not the ice cube melting to nothing in our hands whenever we don’t watch it like a hawk. It is the hand! It’s part of us!

4. ​I never need to be good enough
We don’t have to achieve anything to be worth. We just ARE. It’s impossible to not be good enough to BE worth. It’s as if we would say "I’m not good enough to have a head."

Can you see the difference?

I didn’t beat myself up for my mistake because my mistakes no longer determine how worthy and deserving I feel.

I let go of the nonsensical beliefs society taught me. And so can you!

Your worthlessness is not reality. It’s a myth. A mere limiting belief that keeps you locked into misery, suffering and self-punishment.

We all make mistakes. But hey, we try our best. And our best will always be good enough.

Because we ARE worth. Regardless.