Sunday, November 17, 2013

In the Wrong

In the Wrong - Stacy Snyder - Parentunplugged
Mistakes happen.  We’re human.  We screw up.  We say things we shouldn’t, we renege on promises, and we take action without fully considering the ramifications.  Sometimes we hurt ourselves and sometimes we hurt others. It’s a part of life that hits each and every one of us because we’re simply not perfect.  

When you make a mess, though, there is a fool-proof way to clean it up. I won’t say it’s easy, because it’s not, but it is usually effective.  Follow this four-step process and you’ll be better for the wear.

1.    Acknowledge your wrongdoing.

Don’t candy coat it.  Don’t make excuses for yourself.  Simply admit to yourself that you’ve made a bad judgment call.    You did something wrong.  If you can’t be honest with yourself and admit your fault on this first step, then you better have a good ‘ol 'Come to Jesus' talk with yourself and get your house in order, especially in regards to the old school right and wrong.  Just because you screwed up, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  You're simply a person that made a bad choice.

2.    Apologize.

If you hurt someone or something in the process of your mistake, own your error and personally apologize.  Be clear and concise, i.e. “I did ______ and it resulted in  _______ and I’m sorry.”  Don’t use the word ‘but’ in your apology, as it lessens the impact, or can negate the apology altogether, such as “I’m so sorry I interrupted your performance by leaving in the middle of your number, but I was running late.”  Don’t be a pansy about the apology either, as it will come across as not an apology at all, i.e. “I’m sorry you feel like I was a selfish.”  Instead, own your shit and say, “I’m sorry I was an insensitive partner/friend/daughter/husband.”  A true apology includes both an admission of guilt, as well as an asking for forgiveness, so end your confession with a sincere request for absolution, such as, “Will you forgive me?”  This part is key as it opens the door of communication and lets the person know he has a choice in how he decides to proceed.  It also leaves you in a vulnerable state, which can actually be helpful in curbing the urge to make that same mistake in the future.

3.    Fix It.

Whether the apology is accepted or not, if there’s a wrong that can be righted by an action you take, by all means do it.  You left the store without paying for the frozen turkey in the bottom of your cart….go back in and pay for it!  You spoke too soon on telling your child she can have a dog before completely  researching the option….do the research and give your child the educated answer she deserved the first time.  You made the same mistake of gossiping about someone for the umpteenth time...examine the real problem of why this makes you feel good about talking about other people and fix the root condition.  This is just doing the right thing.  Follow your conscience and your heart and do what feels right.  It’s 50/50 whether the fixing will truly benefit the wronged, but it’s 100% proven that the fixing step will help fix your soul and force you to think in terms of what I like to call “clean living,” which means doing your best to do the right thing all the time, so you have no regrets.  The mistakes are inevitable  The effort to mend the tear in the fabric is a true choice of character.

4.    Move On.

Once you’ve taken responsibility for your actions, forge ahead.  No need to dwell on negativity or beat yourself up over your imprudence.  If you’ve done all you can do, forge ahead and let it go.  If someone can’t forgive your mistake, you have to accept that.  If someone has agreed to accept your apology, this means in theory that they’re going to move on and move forward.  You must do the same or you risk eating yourself alive or deconstructing the relationship with your guilt.  Conversely, if the party accepting or inactively receiving your apology is unable to find peace with the resolution, you have to move on from that person as well to keep your own sanity.

Screwing up stinks.  You feel bad about yourself and your choices, and oftentimes feel upset for the grief you’ve caused others.  Even the most conscientious of people occasionally practices injudiciousness.  Don’t let it define you.  Rise above it and deal with your transgressions head-on by acknowledging, apologizing, fixing, and moving on.  It will help you be a better you and help those you’ve hurt along the way, to properly heal.