I had an online conversation the other day with a person about mistakes.

To cut a long story short, he did something in a group that was a little bit out of line according the etiquette within that environment. He apologized over and over again, which I thought wasn’t necessary as mistakes happen. He then pointed out that he didn’t feel good about it.

Why didn’t he feel good about it, is it because we have reached a point where our society isn’t forgiving at all? As usual, the answer to that question might be a very complex one.

It might depend on where you come from, of course, as cultural factors might be significant to how we deal with mistakes. Let me break down this a little bit.

1. Why do mistakes happen?

The main reason to why mistakes happen is that we feel so confident in a context, that we start to relax and interpret things a little bit sloppy. Another reason is that we are convinced that we have all the fact at hand or all the knowledge that we need and we operate based on that belief. What we often don’t know is actually what we don’t know, in other words; We don’t have a clue about specific gaps in our knowledge and we are convinced that we don’t have any gaps.

2. What happens when the mistake itself is a fact?

There are a lot of emotions going down when a mistake occurs. The one that carried out the mistake might feel ashamed and wants to get out of that feeling because it is uncomfortable. One strategy is to not recognize the mistake and trying to find other valid or invalid explanations – Justifying the mistake. If you believe that a person reacting like this is an evil one, then you have to think again – Guilt is often a heavy burden on your well being so the attempts to not recognize the mistake is rather a representation of our survival instincts than a person trying to exercise pure evil in terms of sociopathic behaviour.

The person that is on the other side of a mistake might also feel embarassed and will also employ certain strategies in order to have their feelings reckognised. One is to enforce guilt and remorse from the person that did the mistake. This strategy will of course not work, the effect of it will be that both parties will dig trenches and keep pounding each other with guilt trips and sooner or later they are discussing irrelevant matters compared to the initial mistake that sparked everything off into an explosion.

3. How do you solve mistakes?

Turning back the time isn’t possible, so that won’t be a sustainable solution to a mistake that has caused a lot of grief or heated emotions. Take a good look at what I wrote why mistakes happen; Due to lack of knowledge. Try to help each other out to fill these knowledge gaps – Be creative. Inform the other person about YOUR feelings and reactions, then let the other person explain what THEY feel. The important thing when doing this is to do it with an intent to create an understanding rather than a guilt trip. You can never request the reckognition of your feelings if the other person doesn’t understand you. It is also very important to not use sentences like “You made me feel this way because……..” as it will only push the other one into a corner. You are, from their perspective, trying to put guilt on their shoulder which is the very thing they are trying to deal with from the start. Use neutral descriptions instead, even if you are angry or upset by the thing that happened. An exaample would be to start an explanatory sentence with “It made me feel like…..”

4. The most important thing – Mistakes are actually learning experiences!

What most people seem to dwell upon when it comes to mistake is the guilt, shame and hurt. But what if we go beyond those feelings?

Allow me to use an analogy; I’m a trained pilot and during my pilot training we actually learned to do mistakes and deal with them. Good airmanship actually means that you don’t put prestige in your own skills and your mistakes. The consensus within the pilot community is that mistakes will happen to everyone – It’s just a question about when and where. When mistakes eventually happens to a pilot it’s really important to see the mistakes as they are – A series of circumstances that played against your lack of knowledge. All pilots learn that it is really important to step out of yourself and take a good look at what really happened – For your own safety and well being. If you lack the skill to discuss your own mistakes as a pilot then you’re a dangerous pilot and you will not allow anyone else to learn from your mistakes.

Mistakes are learning experiences – They will show you, with brute honesty, where you don’t have a clue. In other words; Mistakes are really good for learning opportunities because they will tell you where you have to get more knowledge about certain things. Mistakes are very important pieces of knowledge, even though it is a very painful way to gain understanding about something that usually refers to ourselves.

If we would think about mistakes this way instead then more people would be more confident – Not from doing the actual mistake, but they would gain confidence if they look at the mistake and then see what they actually have learnt from it – Especially what they have learnt about themselves.

5. How does all this relate to BDSM?

Mistakes will happen when you do BDSM, physical and emotional ones. I do them as a Dominant and I am fairly sure that Submissives do them them too. As BDSM also is a journey into yourself, then it is important to deal with mistakes in a good way. Mistakes will happen and that’s ok, as long as we learn something from them and actually admit to that they do happen – It’s just a question of when and where.

6. Do you always follow your own thoughts regarding mistakes?`

Not always, I do mistakes as well – But when I do it has always given me something valuable; New knowledge.


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