Go With the Flaw

How to make peace with mistakes and uncertainty.

Posted Oct 21, 2017

Tierney/AdobeStock
Source: Tierney/AdobeStock

I saw the sign, “Go with the Flaw” on a boat in Venice. I was hauling my huge suitcase over a bridge when it passed by. I had no idea that there would be no taxis to take us to our apartment. I had no idea how many bridges with steps I would have to drag my bag over. I had no idea that when we finally reached the apartment, I would have to lug it up four more stories of steep, narrow stairs.  

It is in the moments of realizing our mistakes, pushing through difficulties, and feeling stupid, whipped, or embarrassed that we are actually most powerful. It is in these moments we can sink into darkness or choose to get back up and find the light.

This post is not just for perfectionists who can’t sleep for fear of making an error. It is also for pragmatists who don’t dare to dream because of the likelihood of false starts, missteps, or unexpected outcomes.

When nothing is disturbing you, your emotions are either stable or uplifted. You can go about your day without thinking about how you feel. The moment your peace is disrupted when you realized you acted foolishly or you face a future you fear is out of your control, you have the opportunity to make the moment a crisis or an adventure. You can feel tortured with humiliation or uncertainty, or calmed with humor and humility. It is your response that decides what comes next.

You have the power to create the climate, rain or shine.

Mind-Settling Techniques

When the flow of your day is disturbed by a flaw, what can you do to settle your mind?

1. Schedule reflection moments into your day to create a habit of pausing your brain. Set your phone or calendar to go off two or three times a day and ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I feeling?
  • What is the truth about the situation? State what occurred with no judgment as to right or wrong.
  • Am I making things worse or better? What is the next step I can take to honor my strengths and move forward with the best of intentions for a good result?
  • What is the lesson learned I can use in the future?

2. Breathe in an emotion that opens your heart. Your emotions can send you in a tailspin of guilt, shame, or blame. Your emotions can also release you to explore, create, and relate even when you wish you had done something else.

  • Use photographs of your family, pets, friends, or enjoyable places you have visited to spark feelings of love and gratitude.
  • Place trinkets on your desk that make you smile or laugh. 
  • Keep a file of notes people have sent you acknowledging your contribution and papers that denote your achievements to activate your pride.
  • Remember your purpose, your faith, and your sense of wonder about the grander scheme of life.

Your dark thoughts will fade when you fill your heart and body with positive feelings.

3. Learn how to quiet your mind. Too much self-bashing, too much worry, and too much pessimism can create a default state of gloom. Many companies are teaching sitting meditation as a way to refresh the mind. You can also learn active meditation where you walk or hike in nature, noticing the beauty of the world around you. Can you shift into a state of admiration and awe for life? Your reactions will dissipate when you realize that nature, though flawed, is rich with possibility.

You have the power to create your reality. Use reflection and emotions to manage your mind and future.

And if you find you are stuck in a spinning cycle downward, a therapist might help you unwind, heal, and move on.

Back in Venice: When we reached the top of the stairs, panting and groaning, we fell through the door laughing. The boat saved the day, for reminding us to Go with the Flaw.