(146) Use Your Worst Mistakes to Build Self-Esteem (and inner-strength)

Updated: 7 days ago

Self-esteem? Not when I make a mistake! I feel embarrassed, even ashamed (especially if others are involved).

And because I hate feeling that way, I pretend I didn't do it; or pretend I meant to do it; or blame someone or something, anyone or anything that is not me.

If I use blame, I immediately start telling myself why it was not my fault, over and over. The bigger the mistake the more time I have to spend convincing myself (and those around me?).

Yes, I have done all that, absolutely everything, except boost my self-esteem higher than it was before.

How? You know. By taking a deep breath and 1.) admitting "I made that mistake;" 2.) Apologizing; and 3.) Stating what I will do to make things right (or at least better).

Ducking and hiding always makes me feel young and sneaky. Standing up feels strong, at least afterward; and it increases inner strength and self-esteem, permanently (every time).

But for many of us, the thought of admitting a mistake can feel too awful to even try. I know, I have been there.

What to do? 3 steps:

1.) Give this post to someone close to you.

2.) Then, have some fun pretending different mistakes (based on the past?). Take turns admitting, apologizing and saying what you will do to fix them. Enjoy a number of sessions.

And yes, though it is not nearly as fun, you can do this on your own.

3.) Out in the world, start with small mistakes, the ones that some of us act like we meant to do. Admit them to yourself, verbally. Nice and loud if you are alone. And if you find yourself in the middle of acting, well, admit that.

This foundation will make it easier to take the next steps, but take them slowly. Make the process as gentle and as easy on yourself as possible.

And you too will experience that rise in self-esteem and inner strength.

The Stark Reality - Marie

It had taken several weeks of late nights, but Marie was smiling, as she thought of her recent promotion to Marketing and how much the team would like this, her first report.

She entered the plush conference room and proudly began handing them out but suddenly began to feel nervous.

As she watched her boss leaf through it, she felt even worse.

Franklin finally looked up and said, “This looks good Marie, but where is the Linderman section?”

Marie asked, “Linderman?” and felt her face flush a bright red.

Their initial meeting had been long, and near the end, Franklin had mentioned including Linderman’s area of the state.

Annabelle, senior member of the team, incredulously asked, “You didn’t include it?”

The others had their eyes on the table.

Marie’s voice was quiet, as she said, “I, I remember we, well, we talked about it, and I just, uhm, forgot.”

This last was a whisper.

She glanced up to see Franklin’s angry face and remembered how much he hated falling off schedule.

He abruptly stood and barked “Take twenty-minutes!”

The others followed him out, leaving Marie alone.

The silence was overwhelming.

“Can I help?”

Marie looked up, tears brimming.

A short, balding man handed her a tissue and asked “What happened?”

The words came spilling out. She finished by saying, “And I feel so embarrassed, more than embarrassed.”

“Ashamed?” he asked.

“Yes, ashamed. How could I have forgotten a whole section of the report?”

“A feeling of shame is common after a big mistake.”

Marie blurted, “Who are you?”

“Dennis,” he answered. “I'm a psychologist the company brings in to support marketing. I was in the office across the hall and saw Franklin stomp out.”

She quietly said, “Marie.”

Dennis asked, “Do you know that you have never been wrong?

“Oh, come on,” she said, “This is a disaster; besides, everybody makes mistakes.”

“Of course we do, and your mistake is thinking that mistakes are wrong.”

“But I feel so awful; I mean, I let these people down.”

“Yes, you did, but our society has let you down. It has taught you to think that what you did was wrong, even bad.”

Marie gave a quick shake of her head and said, “Okay, but so what?”

“Ah, the so what is the choice you now face. You can continue to wallow in the blame and shame, or you can take responsibility and do everything possible to make it right.”

Marie looked away.

A full minute passed before she nodded to herself, turned to Dennis and said, “Thank you.”

The team began returning. Franklin entered last and sat down hard.

Still angry, he leaned forward and said, “Without Linderman we are behind schedule. Now, Annabelle, I want you to…”

Marie stood up and said, “Excuse me.”

She could feel her hands trembling and clasped them in front of her.

Forcing herself to look at her boss, she said, “I want to apologize…” Her voice cracked. She cleared her throat and tried again.

“I apologize for my mistake, and I have a solution. We can go over the first five sections of the report today and tomorrow.”

She paused and then plunged ahead. “I will complete Linderman tonight and tomorrow night, and we can use them, along with the final two sections on the third day.”

Franklin sat back. Silent.

Slowly, he said, “Yes, ok, that could work. Are you sure you can handle it?”

She hesitated, then nodded decisively and said, “Yes; and again, my apology to you all.”

As she sat down, Marie realized an inner glow had replaced much of the embarrassment / shame, and she sent Dennis a silent thank you.

Every Mistake can Build Your Self-Esteem Higher

Mistakes bring us down, especially when others are involved. Most of us feel embarrassed, even ashamed. But there is a way to lift your self-esteem higher than it was before the mistake.

Use Your Worst Mistakes to Build Self-Esteem & Inner Strength


All She Ever Wanted Was...


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For more on building self-esteem from mistakes, here is a link from The Muse:


Use your (worst) mistakes to build self-esteem:


The very foundation of personal improvement is self-care/self-love. Waiting at this link:


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