What If There Really Are No Mistakes?

I doubt there is anyone among us who has not experienced grief or loss in one aspect or another. Last week, my guest blogger, Uma Girish, shared some of her journey through grief in healing from her mother’s death. Because of the pain and suffering she experienced over the loss of her mother, she was able to find a deep personal transformation. She offered the perspective of Rev. Michael Beckwith who said “Crisis ignites evolution” as resonant of her own experience now that she has come out on the other side of her grief and found her joy again.

Her story reminds me of the notion that I have been sitting with for quite some time now. What if there are no mistakes? What if everything that happens to us and that continues to unfold in our lives, even the events that we judge to be bad, traumatic or wrong, are really here to awaken us to our own personal journey of transformation? What if everything, including death, is really a catalyst for our own evolution?

I believe this to be true of my abortion and subsequent miscarriage many years ago. Those events triggered a personal crisis for me that literally compelled me to make a choice between life and death. Sometimes we need a calamity of remarkable significance in our lives to motivate us to change. The experience of shame, pain and grief were unquestionably the impetus for my own personal transformation.

Brene Brown writes in her book Daring Greatly, about an interview she had with Peter Sheahan, the CEO of ChangeLabs, a global consultancy firm. Based on his experience, he believes that “The secret killer of innovation is shame.” It makes people afraid to speak up, to take risks, to be truly creative.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where we don’t have to rely on a disastrous event happening in order to evolve: a world where we are allowed to feel our pain, shame and other difficult emotions and then leave them in the past for good.

I read recently about the Babemba tribe in Africa that takes a unique approach to handling “mistakes” within the tribe. Rather than punishing or shaming the person, they surround him or her in a circle of their entire community. They would then take turns sharing their observations of all the positive attributes of that individual. Rather than tearing them apart, they build-up that person’s self-esteem, reminding them of all the goodness they hold inside of them.

I wonder what a different world this would be if we could adopt that practice on a larger scale. What if there are no mistakes, only goodness in each one of us? Think about how quickly we could cycle through the elements of fear and shame that hold us back from fully living our potential.

For women who have had an abortion, this shift in mindset would enable them to feel and express their emotions freely and authentically, without fear of judgment. They might then begin to see their experience with curiosity and explore the potential of it for their own personal growth, rather than using their energy to keep hidden this part of their past.

What a radical thought: to accept all of ourselves and our behavior as part of an experience of transformation.

Just like the Babemba Tribe, I think we might just find a more beautiful world…



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