Mental Health Matters | Making mistakes

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few words on the fact that human beings always make mistakes: but shouldn’t we give people the benefit of the doubt a little more?

Hello, and welcome to the bit of the Film Stories site where we stop and chat about mental health, wellbeing, the things that some of us might be going through, that sort of thing. It’s something we’ve been doing for years, and will continue to do. Not every weekly article is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this long-running series, there’s something in there that might be of use to you.

This week, a few words on innocent mistakes, and not giving people too much grief for them.

Why do we pretend that human beings don’t make mistakes? And why is that something that we look to tear people down for? That’s something that’s been vexing me quite a lot in recent times, as more and more people open up about the fact that, no matter how things may look, they’re making things up a little. Imposter syndrome gets everyone, no matter how successful (or unsuccessful) they may look. And nobody’s able to get through a week without making some kind of innocent mistake.

The demand for perfection from human beings has long since been called out, and yet I still see mistakes treated as if the person responsible has summoned a demon from below to wreak havoc on the earth. I make lots of innocent mistakes. Hopefully, most of them you don’t see. I fix them as I go along, and some slip through. I don’t like it, it’s not ideal, but I also know that I have limits as much as anyone.

I do think there’s a line to be drawn between an innocent mistake and a more nefarious one, but that’s not what this piece is about. At heart, this is just about asking to give people the benefit of the doubt a bit.

A regular drum that’s banged in these articles is that we never really fully know somebody else’s story, or what they’re doing through, or what kind of day they’ve had. There’s an abundance of contributory factors to people getting something wrong, and the overwhelming majority of mistakes and errors are – thankfully – a million miles away from life and death. I wonder then if we can start treating them as such a little more. It’s bad enough most of us beat ourselves up, metaphorically, but let’s sprinkle a little more kindness and tolerance around where we can.

There are probably misteeks in this article. I’m sorry if there are. But while we’ve got breath in our lungs, and unless this article does indeed discover the power to summon evil spirits, let’s just all smile and move on.

This column will return next week…

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