On Thursday we are observing Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur marks the end of the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance. Yom Kippur is a time of self-reflection. According to the Jewish tradition, on this day we are being judged for all we have done in the past year. We repent to God asking forgiveness for our wrongdoings. We are also required to make peace with our fellow humans.  God won’t forgive you for what you have done to others, it’s the people you have wronged who must forgive.

Asking for forgiveness isn’t enough, you have to validate the person you hurt. You also have to accept that they might not forgive you.

The word ‘sorry’ is powerful when used with intention and sincerity. It’s easy to say when you don’t mean it and sometimes very hard to utter when it is most needed.

Set your intention right. You need to clear up your feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, hurt, and guilt so you can enter the new year with a clean slate. This not only allows us to sincerely ask for forgiveness but also puts us in a better place to forgive. It’s a beautiful way to start the Jewish New Year.  In both the Jewish New Year and on January 1, we often set intentions to be better in the next year and vow to ourselves we won’t make mistakes.

But mistakes can be wonderful gifts in that they provide us with an opportunity to learn and improve. We learn less when we easily succeed in everything we do, yet often people dread making mistakes to the point of not trying something where there’s a potential for “failure”.

(The fear of making mistakes is overall more harmful than the repercussions of the mistakes. For example, often the fear of making a mistake paralyzes us and makes us passive. Failure to make a decision ostensibly removes us from the responsibility for the outcome, whether it is a failure or a success. There’s a paradox in not making decisions out of fear of failure; you want to control the outcome of a situation, but being afraid to take action and avoiding decision making is giving up control of the outcome. You give “external foci” to other people, environmental conditions, and other factors that aren’t in your control. Sometimes it has crucial weight on many aspects of your life.

Understanding that mistakes are legitimate and even necessary tools for growth automatically reduces anxiety, allowing us to conduct ourselves calmly and to think clearly.
So mistakes are necessary for your success (sit tight, another blog post about that coming up soon)

We all make mistakes, but the question is how do we deal with our mistakes. Do we succumb to feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.? Or do we understand that a mistake is part of our learning process? Do we accept it and analyze it so that next time we can do things differently?

I often see this on the mat among people who tend to seek perfection in their performance. The fear of making mistakes makes their learning curve much slower. Mistakes can lower our confidence, but when we learn from that failure, adjust and improve through practice, we grow.

You will fail. But you must get up and keep going. Analyze it, learn from it, get better.

Learn to forgive yourself, and you will find the courage and ability to forgive others.