I do freelance work. The person I work for assigns me tasks from her own clients. The other day, I completed a project for her and submitted an online proposal for one of her clients. About five minutes later, I realized I had made a huge, huge mistake. I submitted the proposal for the wrong client.
Upon realization, my heart and head went into a panic.
I hold myself and my work to a high standard, especially when I am doing work for someone else. Making a mistake is simply not acceptable. If I had made a mistake on something I’d done for myself, it wouldn’t be so bad. But this mistake could make her look incompetent to her clients–people who pay her and support her livelihood!
Years ago, if this had happened, I would have spent the rest of the night in a haze of self-hatred. How could I be so stupid? I don’t deserve to work for her any more–I should quit. How could I make such a huge mistake? I shouldn’t be allowed to do things for anyone. Hate hate hate. Stupid stupid stupid.
Then I’d think about it all day. And the next day. I’d recall it months later and feel a tinge of hate toward myself all over again.
But I’ve created a coping mechanism the past few years. When something like this happens, I don’t let myself cave in to the self-flagellation that my brain so desperately wants to engage. I just can’t afford it (mentally) any more. I can’t afford to let myself fall into–and roll around–in that pit of hate towards myself. It takes too long to climb out. And it’s exhausting.
Instead, I just push those feelings away. I know they are there. But I won’t let them sink in. Even though I am so mad at myself, I pretend like it’s not as bad as it is.
Maybe part of this is just growing up a bit. The realization that getting mad at myself accomplishes nothing, so why do it?
So you want to know the outcome of my screw-up? Check this out. It turns out I didn’t make the error I thought I made after all. Everything was ok. I think my boss thinks I’m crazy, but at least that’s better than having actually made the big mistake. Phew!