MARQUITA HERALD – Why It’s So Hard to Learn From Our Mistakes – 6-23-15

hiding from mistakesBy Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living, June 22, 2015

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Want to become more courageous, confident, creative and successful? Make more mistakes!

There’s just one little problem, a disclaimer if you will, that is often glossed over in the sea of advice and rarely included in inspirational quotations praising the opportunities inherent with making mistakes … you must actually learn something from your misstep for it to be of value.

It’s not like we don’t have plenty of material to work with, after all we all make mistakes, but failure and mistakes rarely feel like a great learning opportunity at when they happen. And therein lies the rub, because most of us are far too busy denying or trying to distance ourselves from our mistakes to take the time to actually learn anything from them.

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way … unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. ~Al Franken

The Benefits of Learning From Your Mistakes

Following are just a few examples of the benefits to be derived from taking the time to learn from your mistakes.

  • You become more aware of your thoughts and behaviors.
  • You deepen your understanding of who you really are.
  • You learn to live without regrets.
  • You are better able to overcome fears, especially the fear of making mistakes.
  • You gain perspective on the things and people that matter most.
  • You learn to take responsibility.
  • You learn the value of compassion and forgiveness.

Accepting the importance of learning from our mistakes is one thing, but doing the actual work is another because it involves such things as facing our ego, taking responsibility and admitting vulnerability. But since the process is precisely where we often benefit the most, we’re going to focus on understanding the primary reasons we avoid accepting and learning from our mistakes.

The Biggest Stumbling Blocks

We Rationalize

Rationalization is the process of coming up with apparently sensible explanations for our behavior. For example if you’re like many people, you enjoy chocolate and eat it at every opportunity. You might tell yourself that chocolate has antioxidants and it boosts your mood, or that you’ve had a rough day and you deserve to treat yourself. Even though all of this may be true, it is not the real reason why you eat chocolate, it’s just a line of reasoning you use to feel better about eating something high in fat and sugar.

People often rationalize in this way by telling themselves stories to justify their mistakes, for example if they had had the right tools or information then they wouldn’t have … or, if so-and-so had done his job, then they wouldn’t have …, etc.

Rationalization is also used in conjunction with buyer’s remorse. Deep down we may know full well we’re making a mistake but we find ways to justify the decision. For example how buying the treadmill is going to help you get fit – never mind that it’s now gathering dust in your spare bedroom – it was on sale and you saved a ton of money, besides it was a bargain compared to a gym membership.

This line of reasoning comes to us naturally because we don’t want to feel bad or guilty so instead we get defensive and grasp for any possible reason for our actions that gets us off the hook.

We Convince Ourselves it Was Simply a Fluke

Often when we make a mistake we convince ourselves it was an aberration, a onetime event that happened because of bad luck, the stars aligned against us, or whatever. But the bottom line is we choose to put the experience behind us and move on as quickly as possible without trying to learn anything about the dynamics of the mistake because we assume it will never happen again.

This type of thinking is very common and includes behaviors like repeatedly putting off assignments to the last minute, repeatedly agreeing to avoid conflict, failing to listen fully, and dating the same oh-so-wrong-for-you type of people again and again.

Unfortunately, the effects of all these choices and tiny missteps can accumulate over time and morph into a full blown life crisis. Every person who was ever abused, cheated on or lied to can look back at the first time and realize that at that moment they crossed a line – they had a choice to stand up for themselves or ignore the implications, and hope for the best.

Sometimes mistakes happen even when we make all the right choices, but other times they are a signal that our internal self is trying to tell us there is something far more serious going on. The only way to get off the merry-go-round is to take the time to understand and learn from our choices and behaviors.

We Don’t Take Time to Understand What Went Wrong

Sometimes we recognize and take responsibility for the mistake, but never bother to understand why it happened. Mistakes are a reality check. Taking responsibility for the consequences of our mistakes is just the first step, but it puts us in a better position to do the work to understand what’s working–and what isn’t. If we choose to deny or move on for the sake of putting the event behind us we miss out on a powerful opportunity to learn about our behaviors, the things we say, do and think, particularly if it’s a recurring pattern.

Ironically we may not even fully appreciate some of the most important lessons we learn from our mistakes until later, sometimes much later.

If you can turn your mistakes into stepping stones, and your fears into courage, then anything you want in life is achievable. ~Author Unknown

I still vividly remember a mistake I made while working at a manufacturing company many years ago. As the office manager one of my responsibilities was the weekly payroll, and the company had just switched to a new automated system with our bank. I made a single digit coding error and triggered an entire payroll for hundreds of people off schedule! I could have blamed it on the new system, or the fact I’d just pulled an all nighter studying for a college exam, but the truth is none of that even occurred to me. I rushed into the owner’s office in a 3-alarm anxiety attack and blurted out that I had just massively screwed up. He could have reacted in any number of ways, including firing me, but instead he ushered me to a chair and handed me a glass of water as he attempted to calm my nerves and assure me there are in reality very few mistakes in life that aren’t fixable or qualify as true emergencies.

There were several things I learned from that mistake, but the most valuable lesson was the way the owner had calmly acknowledged my feelings, and assured me that life on this planet as we know it would not end because of my error. At the time the relief I felt helped to ease the guilt a little, but the truth was that experience changed me in ways I wouldn’t understand until years later.

In fact that experience had shifted my whole perspective on the value of forgiveness, as well as the importance of accepting ourselves as imperfect and yet worthy. Over the years I’ve often thought of that man and wondered what he would think if he knew how often I’ve repeated his words to soothe the frayed nerves others who have made mistakes.

Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules, leave the world more interesting for your being here. ~Neil Gaiman

Mistakes Don’t Define You – But They Can Free You

It’s not easy to own our actions and decisions, especially if you believe they make you look foolish to others, but you’ll never be able to learn from your mistakes until you do. Many people, especially after they’ve experienced a big mistake, will pull back and do whatever it takes to keep from repeating the experience.

This is such a terrible waste of your skills and talents, worse yet it robs you of the opportunity to achieve your full potential. You can’t grow if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes. The best part about it is that when you muster the courage to risk, even if you don’t get the exact results you want, at least you tried – which is a lot more than most people. And best of all you won’t end up living a life of ‘What if?’ regrets. What if I’d tried, what if I’d said, what if only …

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.

ThanksThanks so much for taking the time to read my article and especially for sharing your brilliant opinions and stories in the comments below! If you found this post insightful, please take a moment to take advantage of the handy little social media buttons below to share with your friends and followers.

Everything about Emotionally Resilient Living is focused on the core mission of cultivating inner strength and learning to find the opportunities for growth in all of your experiences so you can truly take charge of your life! To learn more about ERL please visit the “About” page, and if you’re curious about me you might like to read My Story.

Here’s to living and loving your resilient life!

MARQUITA HERALD – Why We Sometimes Struggle to Feel Gratitude – 6-17-15

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By Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living, June 16, 2015

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While most of us are aware that gratitude is a “good thing” to feel, at times it can be challenging to muster the emotions let alone focus on precisely what we’re grateful for. This is especially so if we happen to be going through a rough patch, indulging ourselves in a little quality time on the oh-pity-poor-me pot, or focused more on all the things we want in life rather than what we already have.

Of course the benefits of gratitude are well documented and include the possibility of more energy, increased optimism and happiness, improved sleep, stronger immune system, and decreased chance of depression.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. ~Melody Beattie

You have to admit, there aren’t many things that require so little investment and have such a nice return. So, even though this is far from revolutionary thinking, why do we still sometimes struggle to find things to be grateful for?

#1 Reason We Struggle With Gratitude

Let’s start by acknowledging that positive life circumstances are seldom equally distributed; while some of us appear to have relatively easy lives, others suffer greatly. Sometimes adverse circumstances come about as a result of poor choices, and other times we find ourselves facing obstacles or unexpected change that we have no control over. Regardless of the nature, the reason we struggle to find anything to feel grateful for during these times is that we’re basing gratitude on external circumstances.

If your sense of gratitude is based on how things happen to be going in your life at the moment you’ll likely be incredibly grateful when things are going well. But as soon as your circumstances change, those warm and fuzzy feelings will soon be replaced by disappointment and frustration.

In order to turn an “attitude of gratitude” into a sustainable habit, your foundation for feelings of gratitude must be independent of your circumstances and the way to accomplish this is by shifting your mindset to focus on being grateful just to be.

Take Your Gratitude to a Deeper Level

True gratitude, like love, is as much an action as it is an emotion. You may have many things in your life to be grateful for at the moment, but to shift away from focusing on external circumstances try taking your expression of gratitude to a deeper level to develop a sense of appreciation for the art of being fully alive.

The Wealth of Your Senses

Touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Our senses are what connect us to the world. Consider the wealth of all you can see, hear, and feel everyday of your life. Learn to appreciate the subtle changes in a loved one’s facial expressions, a beautiful piece of art or the smell of fresh cut grass, the sound of rain, the wind, or waves lapping on the shore. Allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of petting your dog or cat, the rich smell of fresh cut grass, or the touch of a lover or a friend. Focus not only on your enjoyment of a good book, but the blessing of your ability to see the print and read.

Familiar Things and Faces You Rely On

Have you ever noticed that the more familiar you become with the people, beautiful places, and comfortable situations in your life, the easier they are to take for granted? It’s your favorite cashier that you look for whenever you head to the checkout line, your favorite restaurant where everyone recognizes you and makes you feel special, or the one and only mechanic that you will trust your precious car with. We grow comfortable with circumstances and assume things will never change. But things do change, and people will leave. So why not take some time to think about all of the things, people and situations that you count on to make your life a little easier, a little more pleasant, and where possible voice your appreciation for the difference they make in your life.

Your Ability to Learn

Our ability to learn is something that is sorely taken for granted. There is a whole world of fascinating information and opportunities for growth out there, and a lot of it is free and available right at our fingertips as long as we have an internet connection or a library card.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. ~Henry Ford

The Beauty and Power of Nature

There is so very much beauty all around us to see, touch, and hear. Nature is so miraculous because it is always changing. No matterPlumeria_Flowers how many times you look at something, it is always different. When it is sunny and bright outside, we feel cheerful inside. When it is cloudy and rainy, we often feel gloomy but even in the clouds there is beauty if you are only willing to open your eyes to it.

I live on a beautiful Island in the middle of the Pacific and still have to remind myself from time to time to “see” my surroundings. Just this morning I returned from a walk with my dog and finally noticed the plumeria trees that line the drive coming up the hill to my home are in full bloom!

Learning to become more aware of nature can truly have a profoundly positive effect on our lives in the way we look at things and in the way we feel about ourselves.

Every Experience That Led You to Become Who You Are Today

Life is a collection of moments and all of your moments up to now have made you the person you are today. The seemingly useless happenings that added up to something special, and the elaborate future plans that never came to be. Every lesson, every regret, every decision, and every obstacle mattered because all of this has strengthened you. Challenge yourself to celebrate your successes and redefine regrets, mistakes and failures as valuable life lessons, and allow the knowledge to help you look for the opportunities for growth in all of your future experiences.

The Privilege of Being One of a Kind

YOU are one of a kind … there is no one quite like you in the whole world. Stop worrying about fitting in or comparing yourself to others and learn to embrace your individuality. Every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are, and aren’t, that you will truly find the happiness and fulfillment that you seek. Be grateful for the amazing person that you are!

Taking the time to be thankful allows us to look at the bigger picture in life and enjoy each day to the fullest. It’s hard to be focused on all the negative aspects of your life while feeling grateful. The same applies to being grateful for people. It’s hard to think about the shortcoming of others when you’re focused on how grateful you are just to have them in your life.

Your Turn: What would you add to the list? Are there things or people that you sometimes forget to be grateful for?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.

ThanksThanks so much for taking the time to read my article and especially for sharing your brilliant opinions and stories in the comments below! Everything about Emotionally Resilient Living is focused on the core mission of cultivating inner strength and learning to find the opportunities for growth in all of your experiences so you can truly take charge of your life!

P.S. If you found this post insightful, please take a moment to take advantage of the handy little social media buttons below to share with your friends and followers. To learn more about ERL please visit the “About” page, and if you’re curious about me you might like to read My Story.

Here’s to living and loving your resilient life!

Marquita Herald – Strategies to Build Courage and Conquer Fear – 6-28-14

Embrace Courage

Written by Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living,

June 27, 2014 | Thanks to Awakening Daily.

Cultivating courage is not a choice reserved for a brave few; it’s an option open to anyone with a passion for creating their own life experience.


What do you think of when you hear the word courage?

Perhaps you think of a firefighter or soldier; someone bravely fighting a battle with a life-threatening disease, or possibly someone rebuilding their life after a catastrophic accident.

But courage has many faces. If you are struggling with depression, getting out of bed in the morning is courage; leaving a successful career to strike out on your own requires courage, and if you’re painfully shy, that first time you speak up at a meeting takes great courage.

True courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s feeling and acknowledging the fear and moving forward anyway, and it’s an attribute that can benefit us in almost every area of life …

  • Stepping outside your comfort zone requires courage!
  • Making hard choices requires courage!
  • Standing up for what you believe in requires courage!
  • Asking for what you want requires courage!

The only thing greater than power of the mind is courage of the heart. ~Author Unknown

The Nature of Courage

The courage I’m talking about is the ability to reclaim the power we unwittingly give to any number of imaginary fears that keep us safely sheltered within the boundaries of our personal comfort zone.

The insidious problem we unknowingly foster when we give in to fear is the sense of “relief” we experience; because in reality what we’re creating is a type of psychological reward system that is reinforcing avoidance behavior. So each time you choose to give in to a fear, you are literally conditioning yourself to make it even more likely that you will avoid facing that fear in the future. Depressing isn’t it?

So what if you challenge yourself to look at fear from a different perspective? Rather than focusing on the fear of what you stand to lose, learn to focus on what you stand to gain by taking action. This simple yet powerful shift in mindset can completely change your perception of the situation and  leave you feeling more courageous and in control of your life.

More Strategies to Help You Build Courage

  • Name your fear: To begin reclaiming power from your fear you must put a name to it. Start by picking one thing you are afraid of doing or facing and in as much detail as possible write down how it makes you feel. What is the worst that could possibly happen if you choose to face your fear and do this thing? Then write down the benefits of facing the fear. Keep in mind that fear is a tricky rascal and will naturally amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, so you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.
  • Keep exercising your courage muscles: Courage is a daily habit and the more you allow yourself to feel the fear and nudge yourself to face even small uncomfortable experiences, the more courageous you will become. And I’ll tell you another secret … because our fears often blind us to new experiences, as you become more courageous you’ll be amazed at how opportunities for growth will begin to appear that you may never have otherwise noticed!
  • Peel away labels: Without even realizing it you may have labeled yourself in limiting roles such as, “I am afraid of change”, “I’m not happy, but this is the best I can do.” Only you can change your story to reflect a new reality … “Yes, it is scary but I owe it to myself to make the most of my life and I CAN do this!”
  • Cultivate emotional resilience: Increasing your capacity for emotional resilience is about so much more than coping with a crisis. It’s the ability to quickly bounce back from unexpected detours, confidently minimize the noise and stress of day-to-day living and creating a stronger, more fulfilling life.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~Anaïs Nin

Whatever you do, don’t try to talk yourself into believing that you have to be fearless before tackling a new challenge! Fear can only rob you of your dreams, motivation, and strength if you let it. Cultivating courage is not a choice reserved for a brave few; it’s an option open to anyone with a passion for creating their own life experience.

Embrace your inner strength; it is your outer foundation …

Marquita HeraldMy name is Marquita and I’m an author, resilience coach, publisher, world traveler, Maui girl, Introvert and lover of wine, road trips, peanut butter cookies and a dog named Lucy.

I would love to hear from you so if you are moved to do so, please leave a comment to share your thoughts and feelings about what you’ve read here, and if you found these words worthwhile please share the article with your friends and social network.

Emotional Resilient Living is about embracing the power you have to create your own life experience, and my role is to provide insight, focus and inspiration for the journey. If you’re on that path now, or have decided you are ready to take the first step, I hope you will consider joining our growing community of ERL Insiders.