Made a Mistake? Ouch. But Didn’t You Learn Something?

There’s a period of life where we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. —Pearl Bailey.

Yesterday was the day of doing a moral inventory of ourselves in the Jewish year and I was praying hard while sitting in a seat reserved for another woman…

She wasn’t there yet so I thought I’d sit until she got there—but once she got there, I didn’t budge. I sunk even lower in that plush chair, prayed harder, wanting the women around me to go away so I could sit there and keep praying.

Isn’t it funny how people are? And how hard it is to really change? I was praying for forgiveness about my past mistakes while committing another mistake. I got holier-than-thou, putting my relationship with the One Above higher than my relationship with the people all around me. Ouch!

I got called on my lousy behavior. It stung, it stung, it stung to realize that I acted in a totally inappropriate way. So unlike me—I’m usually considerate and super-sensitive to the needs of others.

But my mistakes are my best teachers. Here’s what I learned.

Smugness—I was smugly thinking I was superior to these women becauase they were gossiping while I was praying.

Judgmental—how often are we judgmental about others? They didn’t know what was going on in my head nor do I know what was going on in theirs.

MYOB—A woman told me afterwards, “You know, that was Sandra’s seat!” This woman wasn’t minding her own business…so she taught me not to get involved. (Unless it’s a case of real injustice!)

Spiritual progress not perfection—nobody’s a saint. Look at Bill Gates, who gives millions of dollars to charities. In an article here, I learned that Microsoft deliberately wasted power to pressure a small town in Washington not to fine the company $210,000. That’s about what the company makes in a minute. Sometimes we overlook the people closest to us in an attempt to go far.

Forgiveness—So, I made a mistake. Can’t keep beating myself up for it. Better to admit it and share it. Now I have to go apologize to the woman. But how freeing is that? That’s part of being human.

Humility—We have to keep going deeper and deeper and learn more spiritual lessons. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and think of the three A’s: Awareness, acceptance, action.

Live your best chapter: Your worst mistakes are your best teachers.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
This entry was posted in How to Change Your Life, Self-care and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Made a Mistake? Ouch. But Didn’t You Learn Something?

  1. This post really hit the target, Diana. We don’t learn lessons from pleasure, but from pain, and nothing is more painful than knowing–absolutely realizing–that we’ve made a mistake…hurt someone else…done something wrong or made a very poor decision. Some we can correct or make an effort to make right by apologizing or pleading for a “do over.” But the real lesson is the knowledge, the self-realization about what we did.
    My grandmother–and then my mother, too–stressed that the goal is not to be perfect, but to become more self-aware…and also, not make the same mistake twice.
    Thanks your for another excellent post.

    • dianabletter says:

      Your grandmother and mother sound like very smart women. Yes, the goal is self-awareness. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s