Interior Decoration for the Room for Mistakes


I don’t know how much of this is obvious through my writing, but I am a micro-managing anxiety-stricken person in may situations. Being the “leader” of a therapeutic team changes a lot of that. Now may anxiety and micro-managing perfectionism isn’t just my problem; it affects the whole team. Which has led me to a great realization.

It’s good to not only leave a lot of room for mistakes, but to decorate that room. To cherish it. To give it a great new mattress and a few scarves lovingly strewn over the door. To adorn it with a tiny table for incense and some crystals that you found yourself on a mountain across the country. Give it a space.

Because mistakes are some of the best gifts. Maybe not the mistakes themselves, but the room that you give them to sit in. To stay in. Temporarily. As your guests.

You could also just put up a sign on your front door saying, “No Mistakes Allowed!” and see where that gets you. Probably, they’ll start throwing bricks through your windows and calling their friends to toilet-paper your trees. That’s not fun.

No. Instead, think about making room for them. Realizing when and where and why they are welcome, and learning from them. Maybe they leave muddy footprints in the entrance way, but they know how to cook an absolutely delicious omelet, after breaking a few eggs. Maybe they can teach you that much.

Learning to leave room for mistakes helps me to lead this team because I need to let them all make their mistakes so that we can learn and grow. Trying to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place is a recipe for stifled insecurity, it’s a recipe for a tree that dies in its tracks or a person that doesn’t know how to take care of themselves or express their true gifts for the benefit of the group.

Although this feels specific for my situation, I’m sure that others can relate, and perhaps give the topic some thought.

What are some mistakes that you are super-guarded against? (you don’t need to share, just think about it)

Do you remember any benefit that you felt after leaving room for mistakes and learning from them?

If you had a room for your mistakes in your house or apartment, what would that room look like? What would you put in there to show your respect for what they have to teach you? (Okay, you can share this part! I’d love to hear all the details!)

Just some thoughts. Hope you all are well. Thank you as always for reading, engaging, commenting, liking, and otherwise validating my intellectual mind and heart by showing me that I’m not alone in this world. I truly appreciate it. 🙂



31 thoughts on “Interior Decoration for the Room for Mistakes

  1. I LOVE the description of leaving a physical room for our mistakes. It is such a beautiful picture. My one goal for 2013, is to make more mistakes. I play it too safe/perfect sometimes. I have learned way more by mistakes. Tonight I will ponder what my room of mistakes would look like, oh man it would be fun! I would definitely have to have a trampoline in there.

    • Ugh. Ignore that first bit. cant type on my phone. I know you know I’ve got mistakes on my mind right now.

      I cant say the room I would give them would be particulalry hospitable at the moment, but I wouldn’t toss them out completely. Maybe I’d store them in the basement and offer them the old futon…..

      • 🙂 I have a feeling they’d appreciate the futon and be plenty comfortable 🙂 haha I thought your first comment was 100% intentional and I was just responding to it, and then saw this comment.
        Thank you for being you! 🙂

  2. Brilliant idea. I definitely leave room for mistakes, being a far less than perfect person. My house says a lot about me. You really don’t come across as someone with anxiety. You seem so chill. But I guess the wisest people are those who embrace their challenges, and form them into something new and beautiful. x

  3. Leaving room for mistakes – not something one always hears being endorsed, but it is a mandate to ensure the building of a successful, professional individual – great post. Mistakes – well, they’re a dime a dozen in my life. True, one needs to endure mistakes to better themselves, but are mistakes really mistakes – or necessary life experiences? I’m not to sure I would view every ‘mistake’ I ever made in such a negative light. I think referring to something as a mistake is quite judgmental, especially if it allowed you to succeed in something afterwards. I have made a number of them in my time and I don’t believe I would be the person I am today if I had lived a perfect apple pie life. Without ‘mistakes’ I would be very ignorant in regards to jobs, education, writing, life and love. So, in some instances, I think ‘mistakes’ are valuable lessons and need to be treated as such. True, they may have been bad initially, but eventually they lead to something good – or not.
    Moreover, if I had a room for me mistakes it would be; positioned on the top most floor of my house (note to self, upgrade current residence to double story mansion), and would be under lock and key so that only I would have the privilege of reminiscing over all that I had done. In the center would be a hot tub (perhaps gold, why not indulge in such a fantasy?) and surrounding it would be many grand paintings of the ‘mistakes’ that had occurred – but only those that had led to something advantageously beneficial, each of the paintings promulgated in such a way as to visualise beautifully the complimentary knowledge spawned from such occurrences – might be comical, might be over-accentuated, but they would always retain their truthfulness – no matter how painful the past reflections of such a ‘mistake’ may be.
    Thank you for another thought provoking piece Jen! Cheers!

  4. I’d have my whole house open to mistakes 🙂 A large part of my personality now is down to mistakes I’ve made previously. I think it’s only if you never learn from your mistakes and they begin to take up the all space in your house without giving anything back that they start to be detrimental.

  5. Loved this!!! I have my garage for that… so at least it is out of the house… not to say there aren’t mistakes in every room… but I like the idea of designating one room! How metaphoric! We are slowly cleaning it out… hopefully that will reflect on the rest of what is happening in my life…

  6. The main reason I have issues with performing live and why I get nervous before a show is that I fear mistakes. My body tenses up and I strive for perfection, knowing that if I mess up everyone will look at me differently, laugh and criticize. I’ve been trying a new technique where I embrace those mistakes; I know that I am going to make some, I’m only human. Once I embrace mistakes, I find that it is much easier to talk and sing in front of an audience. I watched my brother perform and he made one or two but when I heard them, I only felt love. Its as if, when I’m in the audience perspective, those mistakes make the performance better; I realize that they are human too and that helps me relate to the performer.

    My room would have some unicorn cups and a fuzzy dog, a great friend and some plush fabrics.

    • Yes! There is a great talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability, and she points out that when we see others being vulnerable like on stage, we admire and respect them more because we are all so afraid to do that, and we see them doing it and have nothing but admiration. Plus, you are so gorgeous on stage that even your mistakes are gorgeous 🙂 🙂
      You would love this ranch!

  7. The last time I got up to speak, I stumbled over the steps on the way to the podium, doing my best Gerald Ford impression. How wonderfully liberating it is to quite literally stumble before being able to say a thing. All pressure of reaching some level of polished finesse is gone and only the wonderful freedom of an acknowledgement that I cannot hide (it’s on video, even) remains: “Hi. I’m Mike. I’m a guy who stumbles. Now, shall we move on?” LOVE your analogy of the room. Thinking of our trophy displays. Nah. A display of trophy bloopers might be too much. Been looking forward to your next appearance here. You bless me. oO

    • Aw I am so glad that you liked this and my words! I love that stumbling idea- taking control and just getting it out of the way, then it’s fine. Humans are so funny, and humor seems to really be the key to almost everything 🙂

      • Just to be clear, the stumbling just happened! Don’t know if I can do pratfalls on purpose. It was genuinely humbling, as all mistakes are if we let them be – which is another way of saying “Make them a room.” Kinda gives new meaning to our expression, spoken to each humbling, unplanned pratfall in our lives: “Go get a room.”

  8. Some thoughts while walking this morning and thinking about your post…

    As you get better at something you make fewer mistakes, but you also realize the limits of what you’re good at. Maybe the willingness to push the envelope, to open yourself up to a whole new round of mistakes, depends on already having this sense of accomplishment to build on. Kids probably don’t feel comfortable trying and failing at long division until they feel pretty good about being able to add. I gotta say though that my house of memories has way more rooms filled with failures and regrets than with successes and accomplishments.

    I realize that I tend to attribute problems not to my own mistakes but to other people’s mistakes. Recently I read that a lot more people these days are going into counseling/therapy not in order to fix themselves but to figure out how to fix their spouse, their kids, their boss, their employees… I discussed this with my wife: she often feels anxiety about the possibility of making a mistake (like April in this thread). I don’t have this concern, but when something goes wrong I’m much more prone to getting frustrated and angry at whatever or whoever thwarted my brilliant schemes. I’m not sure which is the “healthier” attitude.

    In playing a musical score there are right notes; in a long division problem there is a right answer. Most of the situations that trouble me are highly ambiguous, where it’s hard to know what the right answer is, whether mistakes were made and by whom, etc. I can picture the reality-testing value of a counselor who can help the client sort these things out from a reasonably objective point of view. I can also picture the value of an analyst who refuses to make those decisions for the client, who refuses to become the arbiter of right and wrong in the client’s life. It would also be valuabe to help clients come to the self-realization of when and why they blame themselves or blame other people for what goes wrong.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful response!
      That’s interesting that people seek counseling in order to fix my own mind, I think I’m quite likely to place blame on the society that I grew up in and people’s contexts for their problems rather than them or myself. But I’m not’s probably a case by case basis.
      What you speak of at the end is sort of the type of therapy that I work with. I’m not a counselor, but the treatment program is really based on supporting and guiding people towards learning about their own states of mind and how to relate with society in a healthy way while still managing extreme states. But to do that, a lot of mistakes need to happen along the way (those confusing types of mistakes where it’s not clear at first) so that I can know what type of direction to steer the team in, gently. It’s a crazy situation because usually, I try to avoid mistakes as much as I can, but now, letting them happen in a slightly controlled way can actually benefit other humans, which is my main intention, so it gives the potential of a reward for’s strange 🙂 But a great way to get beyond this micro-managing thing!

  9. To entertain you between posts I offer one more thought on the subject of mistakes:

    “In the same way that psycho-analysis makes use of dream interpretation, it also profits by the study of the numerous little slips and mistakes which people make — symptomatic actions, as they are called […] I have pointed out that these phenomena are not accidental, that they require more than physiological explanations, that they have a meaning and can be interpreted, and that one is justified in inferring from them the presence of restrained or repressed impulses and intentions. – Freud, An Autobiographical Study (1925)

    An amateur Freudian, my mother always insisted that I didn’t make “mistakes,” that unconsciously I wanted the glass to break, I wanted to misspell the fairly easy word in the spelling bee. I think there is something to Freud’s view about mistakes *sometimes* being the expression of repressed desires and fears, and worth exploring. But there’s also the temptation constantly to question one’s own and others’ hidden motives whenever something doesn’t go quite right. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; sometimes forgetting to buy those disgusting Brussels sprouts *even when it’s written right there on the list* is just an innocent slip of the memory.

    • Haha I agree completely! Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…and the word ‘brussels sprouts’ has been known to go invisible on many a grocery list all over the it’s nearly a proven scientific fact at this point… 🙂

  10. I just wrote a comment, but when I hit the post button it disappeared. Did your blog make the mistake, or did I? And if it was me, did I secretly *want* the comment to disappear because I was afraid of revealing some deep dark secret about myself?

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