Updated: Dec 9, 2021
I made an epic mistake. My stomach dropped and my mind started spiraling. How could I miss this one detail? What must she think of me? I felt myself shutting down. My day was ruined. I cannot recover from this.
And then I stopped. I paused and listened to all the deep foundational inner work I have been doing. I dug deep and reached into my Inner World toolkit to help me recover from this moment.
That’s when I remembered that I actually loved making mistakes!
My initial response to shut down was not based on a belief system I chose. The fear of making mistakes was instilled in me by society and culture. Not me. That is why I am now rewiring my brain to have a healthy relationship with mistakes.
So, here is what happened. I own a dance company of which I manage several locations, instructors and students. The other day, I had a very upset and frightened mother call me. She said “Amna, I am so livid. I just came to pick up my daughter from dance class and she was outside all alone and your studio was locked. All the instructors had left. I am so scared thinking of all the horrible things that could have happened to her.” As she said this, I could hear her voice trembling while she tried to push away her tears.
I am a mother. How could I not relate? My stomach was in knots. I messed up. I royally messed up. I took full accountability and did my best to show her I do care for her little seven year old and thanked her for sharing this with me because now I get to do better.
I felt the waves of emotions within me. The judgmental thoughts that started to tell me ‘How could you do this?’ ‘What's wrong with you?’ ‘No one will trust you again’... you know the spiel.
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But I have worked way too hard to let that garbage self-talk enter my sacred mindspace. I am now aware when these unexamined, knee-jerk reactions enter my Inner World.
That is why I have created a five step process that helps me grow through what I go through (in this case - mistakes or failures ;).
#1: Feel It All
We keep hearing that mistakes are good because they help you learn. But lessons are hard to find when you are in the middle of experiencing an epic mistake. Emotions are strong to say the least. Old, unexamined habits are also usually trying to compete with your new chosen ones.
So I gave myself some space to feel it all before I took the time to quietly reflect on the situation. I allowed myself to feel the guilt, the shame, the anger, the resentment… all the uncomfortable feelings.
After I made space for the hard stuff, the magic started to flow out of me…
But first. The Ego.
#2: Be Aware of the Ego
After I got off the call with the mom, my ego tried to take away my accountability by telling me it wasn’t my fault since I wasn’t even at the studio when it happened. And I enjoyed this feeling for a little bit.
Ego feeds on fear. It makes us too afraid to see our own role in this because it is much harder to work on ourselves than to point the finger. So the initial reaction is usually to externalize everything:
It is so and so’s fault.
Why was the mom so late?
Why didn’t the daughter just tell the instructor?
How could that instructor be so irresponsible?
I would never do such a thing. This happened because I wasn’t there. It’s not my fault at all. It is all their fault.
But here is the thing. When I accept such thoughts, I have externalized all blame to someone or something else. And that doesn’t serve me or the universe and it definitely doesn’t serve this mom or child.
I felt like there was a primal lion within me, wanting to claw at everything in front of her. This is how I can tell when my ego is activated because it is when I am the most defensive and am ready to fight with others.
My ego was trying to externalize blame so that I can avoid doing the hard work within myself. It creates barriers that stop us from truly understanding the lesson that I am meant to learn from this experience.
When we allow our ego to find fault in other things instead of looking within our inner selves, we minimize our extraordinary potential.
No thank you Ego! I Know I cannot control others. The only person I get to control and be accountable for is myself.
I am the leader. Everything that happens within my company is a reflection of me. I missed implementing a safe process around this. I take full accountability.
Now, I am ready to reflect consciously.
I like to think of reflection as a slow moving movie that plays backwards, in which you are the star. When I replayed my movie backwards, here is what I saw:
My intuition had been trying to help me all along.
Our body’s wisdom is intelligent.
You know that feeling of I think I forgot something in the house but then you proceed with your day anyway only to realize one hour later that you forgot your office keys at home and now you have to go back and be late for your first meeting.
Yup! That’s what happened to me!
Literally a week before this “mistake” occurred, I received a sign from the universe in the form of a thought. The thought came to me as I wrapped up one of my dance classes. It went something like this: “Hey! Your students’ parents are no longer inside the studio due to covid guidelines. What if a kid goes outside and the parent is not there?”
And what did I do after the universe intentionally sent this thought my way? I dismissed it. That thought was immediately replaced by whatever I had to do next.
And lo and behold, the very next week a mom calls me rightly upset about her daughter being left outside the studio with no supervision.
And here is the irony of it all, in dance class I always tell my students to trust their bodies and listen to them. Yet, I failed to do the same. How humbling.
#4: Search for Gratitude
Life has shown me that struggles are blessings in disguise that help us grow so we can become a better version of ourselves. One of my favorite quotes around this is Rumi’s the wound is where the light enters.
This is why whenever something bad happens, I search for gratitude.
There is a beautiful thing that happens when we can transform hard feelings into gratitude. Our muscles relax, our hearts open and our minds see more clearly. So, I searched for gratitude. But it wasn’t easy.
This is what my inner self-talk sounded like:
Great! You knew you should have listened to your intuition but you didn’t. You failed! You should have known. You could have avoided all of this. How could you?
But when I challenged my self-talk to find gratitude in what I discovered from my reflection, here is what I chose to say to myself instead:
You are supported! You received a sign from the universe that was trying to help you. And you were aware of it. You didn’t follow through. But you were able to hear it. How cool is that?!
This realization made my heart smile, because I have been reading about the universe supporting me for years but I was finally able to SEE that I really am supported. My body and thoughts were trying to tell me that I needed to do something here. I am half-way there. I just failed to truly listen by following through.
I started to feel super excited by the fact that I am aware of what my thoughts and body are trying to tell me. This tells me that my intuition muscles are indeed getting stronger.
So thank you “Mistake” for helping me see this and allowing me to grow!
But I still couldn’t shake off how my mistake affected this lovely mom and daughter in such a negative way.
What could possibly be the light that I received through this horrible experience? That I lost a client? I lost someone’s trust? I traumatized a child and mother?
So, I continued to search for more blessings and here is another thing I realized:
Had this mistake not happened exactly the way it did, perhaps another student in the future could have been in the same situation and the end result may have been much worse (she could have been lost, kidnapped, hurt). This realization immediately filled my insides with immense gratitude.
Thank you thank you thank you universe for helping me learn from this mistake while still managing to save this girl and her mom from unimaginable pain.
#5: Do better
Last, but not least, when we make mistakes we are given an opportunity to make amends and learn lessons. This is a simple but important rule that keeps us connected to our roots. We are all one. When something happens to the ‘other’, it happens to ‘me’. So, I focused on the next steps. I sent the mother a sorry gift, waived her fees for the rest of the year as well as refunded her for the current month. I apologized profusely. As much as all of this was for her, it was even more so for me and my conscience.
And then I immediately created a new process to ensure that all our students have a safe check-out process for all our classes. We made sure our instructors, teacher assistants and parents were all aware of this as well. Oh and by the way, I did reach out to the instructor whose class this student was in and told her what happened and we talked about making sure this doesn’t happen again. She went through her own cycle of guilt and blame. I did not have to say much for her to learn from her own mistake.
So here, I am now, still working really hard to transform the many auto-pilot, un-examined thought processes within me. Even now when mistakes happen, I still feel down and play the victim-judgemental role, but it only lasts a few minutes or hours instead of days or weeks.
The work here is not done. I am on my way to continue to make my intuition muscles stronger by not only noticing them but actually listening and following through.
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The Big Take-Away
My biggest take-away from this experience was that I need to pay attention to my body’s wisdom more by following through (aka my intuition muscles).
Albert Einstein once said that “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Let’s prioritize giving this gift not only to ourselves but also to our kiddos.
Here are all the awesome ways that you can strengthen your kids’ intuition muscles starting today!
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Shine on! Amna