When I make a mistake I have a few choices:
Blame someone else.
Leave for Mexico.
Face the music.
I usually choose option #3. So…you can now call me Pablo…
I jest… but not really, as that was usually my M-O. But a recent experience showed me how awesome option #4 can be.
I won’t go into details, but I royally screwed up with a friend recently. Naturally, my diehards took my side on the issue. And trust me, based on my pattern, doing the healthier thing here was difficult. I wanted to go into self-preservation mode and excuse what I had done. Pretend my friend was making a big deal out of nothing. I could easily blame her because I knew the majority of our friends would side with me.
But I had a moment of reflection this time. Because unbeknownst to the rest of the gang, this friend had been there for me not long ago, it bothered me that I was ready to put her under the bus.
So I reflected and asked myself some questions: Will that fix anything? Will it bring you peace? Will it leave the option to later heal your friendship or repair the trust if you break it so callously now?
Yeah, yeah, all that self-reflection helped. But you know what ultimately made me do the right thing? When I asked myself "What's the big deal with saying sorry?"
I put the same question to you here and humbly suggest that you too try to think about it whenever you fuck up.
Here's what I learned from saying I'm sorry to someone I had definitely wronged... in a big way. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to face the music...to suck it up and say: “I made a mistake, can you forgive me?”
And this apology is especially helpful when it's ourselves that we need to forgive. Because the sooner we face reality, the sooner the magic can begin! The sooner you can repair the damage (if you can) or learn from the mistake (hopefully). Yes, taking our medicine can be scary. Yes, you may wish you could go back in time or press the Undo button so you don't have t apologize or hurt someone you care about. Yes, it’s hard to think "everything happens for a reason" when for the life of you, you can't figure out what that reason is while the situation is still unfolding. But it's OK to do the scary thing especially when it comes to friendships and valued relationships. Because messing up is not all bad. It can leave us with opportunities (AKA gifts)!
Change: Without mistakes, we wouldn’t know what to work on! They create an amazing opportunity to look at our patterns and see what we need to change.
Strength: Imagine Britney post-2007. She could have hidden away, beaten herself up, and let her breakdown define her. Instead, she returned a stronger woman...it made her go off and find BAD ASS BRITNEY! Mistakes, when we own up to them, can do that for us.
Compassion: Accepting that we're flawed can make us more forgiving of others. It can remind us that we are all human...and mistakes are part of the human experience.
Perspective: A team of psychologists at Cornell University found that subjects wearing an embarrassing T-shirt (of Barry Manilow’s face) guessed that twice the number of people noticed their embarrassing T-shirt than actually did. This thought process is called the ‘Spotlight Effect.’ It means that our minds think our mistakes are far worse than they actually are. So after you stop weeping, step back, look at the facts and relax with a glass of perspective."After it all, ultimately what I learned is this: It's OK to fuck up! What's not OK (for yourself or those involved) is to drag it all out. If you have the conscience to feel bad (that's good...it means you're not a total asshole); go deal with it so you can move on. Don't stick around in guiltville because guiltville is a crappy place to make a home.
LIFE: If you're not making mistakes you're not doing it right.
I don't know if someone is credited with this exact quote but it sums up my point. On the whole, life is crazy and stuff will happen that we regret. But fucking up is usually a good thing and retrospect is usually the server of that perspective. Now if you think about it, how glad are you now that it didn’t work out with your high school sweetheart? When, once upon a time, THAT was the apocalypse, right?!?