For all the gains I’ve made through mindfulness, there has been on significant drawback; being constantly reminded of my failures. A clearer mind has made it very difficult to ignore when I let myself (or others) down. I am now more aware when I say the wrong things at an inappropriate moment, and the guilt I feel stings harder than it ever has in my life.
The silver lining of being more mindful of your mistakes is that they make more of an impact on conscience. This makes it very difficult to ignore what’s happened and repeat the same mistake twice. Maybe the true problem I’m facing is that there is an infinite number of mistakes to be made?
Prior to mindfulness, I would put my foot into my mouth so often that I was a connoisseur of shoe leather, and I could instantly taste the difference between Nike and Adidas. I would fall into the same trap over and over again, ending in the familiar role of making an ass out of myself.
One morning at my school I was standing with my coworkers as our students were getting lined up after the opening bell. A friend of mine, and fellow teacher, came walking up to us wearing a nice outfit with leather boots that came up almost to her knees. Me being the jokester that I am, I burst out with:
“So how was it riding Seabiscuit to work?”
I thought my comment was hilarious, well timed, witty, and with perfect delivery. I was about ready to give myself a pat on the back when I saw her reaction. She was instantly upset, turned around and walked away. I have always had a fun and easygoing friendship with her, but on that day something was different.
Little did I know, she was just put down by our principal only moments before. She is always full of energy and dresses in fun fashionable ways, causing our principal to call her, “a carefree teenager,” (a term she has always despised). After this incident, my attempt to joke around with her was the final straw.
Luckily, I had a very mindful moment and realized my mistake. I saw her reaction and instantly felt very guilty that I had upset a good friend. Unfortunately, we both had to teach our classes so I wasn’t able to apologize right away, but as soon as I sent my students outside to lunch, I went to see her. I walked into her classroom and gave her a sincere and genuine apology.
It was at this moment that I heard about how she had already been teased a few times about her outfit, and that my comments put her over the edge. I told her that I really did like her outfit, and I just was trying to give us all a laugh and I was very sad that I upset her. She accepted my apology graciously, and the situation was resolved.
Before practicing mindfulness, I know I would have handled this situation very differently. I most likely would have ignored her feelings, thinking it was her fault for taking it the wrong way and being too sensitive. I then would have avoided talking to her for a few days, waiting until she had forgotten my comment.
Mindfulness is a process, and as you can see, I still make mistakes from time to time. I will never be perfect, and with my quick wit and outlandish sense of humor, I am going to find myself in trouble now and then. Thankfully, by being more mindful to the feelings of those around me, I can handle these situations when I put my foot in my mouth responsibly.
I know I’m not the only one that says the wrong things at the wrong time, and I would love to hear about a time when you’ve misspoken! Please share your mishap in the comments below! ☺