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After you make a mistake, it can be difficult to know how to resolve the situation. Hurt feelings can complicate everything, making it difficult to keep a clear head and move forward. These simple steps will help you find healing for yourself and everyone else involved.
Five Steps to Take After You Make a Mistake
We’ve all been there. You say or do something, and – often instantly – you get that feeling in your gut. You know you’re wrong or that you just crossed a line. You feel the need to apologize, but you’re unsure of how to go about this. It might be a small mistake that simply inconveniences others. Or it might be a bigger issue that really hurts someone we care about. Either way, when you realize you’ve made a mistake it can induce anxiety, kick up a lot of self doubt, and leave you wondering how to repair the damage.
Unfortunately, these negative feelings can hinder finding a resolution. Even worse, at times they can make us behave in ways that actually exacerbate the situation. We might get defensive and accuse the other person of over-reacting. We might make excuses for our behavior. Or perhaps we use the ultimate defense, acting as if we ourselves are the injured party.
Everybody Makes Mistakes
When you have made a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. You are not a bad person. There is nothing inherently wrong with you. Every person messes up at times. It is part of the human experience. When you beat yourself up, it is only natural that you will get defensive. And defensive feelings only get in your way.
The first step to making any sort of change is to recognize the mistake and take ownership of it. Admit it out loud. If you aren’t sure what you did, listen to the other person. Hear what they say. Don’t just wave their words away.
This step is absolutely crucial. You can’t do anything to fix a mistake until you admit that it happened.
Figure Out What Went Wrong
Once you realize you made a mistake, take some time to figure out why. It is important to understand your own behavior if you hope to change anything. It also helps reduce the chances of you making the same mistake in the future.
Offer a Sincere Apology
Apologize, clearly and directly. Don’t just say, “I’m sorry”, but rather, let the person know that you truly recognize the mistake you made and also why you made it. Assure them that you will do your best to not repeat the mistake and that you genuinely care about their feelings.
Learn What You Can, Then Let It Go
Some of the best lessons we learn in life come as a direct result of mistakes we make along the way. When you mess up, learn as much as you can from the situation. Incorporate the lessons into your behavior moving forward. And then let the mistake go. Do not continue to worry about, fret over, or dissect the situation. Do not beat yourself up about it. Learn and let it go.
When you make a mistake, it can feel like a tangled and confusing mess of emotions. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are only human, and work your way through the above steps. With patience, sincerity, and understanding, you will not only repair the damage – you will grow from the experience.