Apr 232013 9 Responses

What to do Right When You’ve Already Done Wrong

While it’s a whole lot easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble, the fact is we all get into trouble. We make mistakes; we ignore sound judgment; we go against everything we know to be right and make horrible decisions.

Life is not so much determined by the mistakes we make as much as how we handle those mistakes. Most life altering decisions are not a single decision, but a series of choices. They are a mistake followed by a cover-up followed by more mistakes. Anyone can recover from one bad decision, but it’s the series of bad decisions which contain the most danger.

Since we will all make mistakes, we need to be prepared for how we will handle those moments.

Here is what to do right when you’ve already done wrong:

Admit it. Living in denial can be fun, but it’s never useful. Most bad decisions involve deception. The first step toward the right path is found by telling the truth. Admitting a mistake requires humility which is a prerequisite for overcoming a bad decision.

Get help. Rarely can we solve our problems on our own. We often exaggerate our expertise on a variety of topics. If we were that smart, we probably would not have made the mistake to begin with. If bad decisions have any consequences, they should cause us to question our own decision making process and cause us to rely on others. Of course, we shouldn’t just listen to our friends, we should find experts in our specific area and listen to them.

Seek forgiveness. If another person has been hurt by your actions, you should seek their forgiveness. Connect with them, explain your mistake, take responsibility, do not blame others (especially them), and ask them to forgive you. Do not say “my bad” or just “I’m sorry.” Actually say, “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” While we cannot force others to forgive us, we can do everything in our power to reconcile a relationship. The rest is up to them.

Make it right. We can never undo the past, but many times we can do some tangible actions in an attempt to right a wrong. We can pay back money, explain the story to others, pay restitution, or take some action which weds activity with words. Attempting to make things right can confirm to you and reveal to others how much you regret your decision and desire to do better.

Learn from your mistakes. The most valuable, and often the most overlooked, aspect of overcoming a bad decision is taking time to consider why we made a bad decision. More important than overcoming a mistake is making sure we don’t repeat it. What value is it to overcome a bad decision if we are just going to turn back around and make another bad decision. Nowhere is this more evident than in bad relationships. Far too few people ever take the time to consider how they got into a bad relationship so that they might not repeat that mistake. A simple process of reflection and assistance from others can help us from repeating our bad decisions.

Mistakes happen. We all make them. The key is to ensure we know how to handle them properly and make sure we don’t repeat them.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned from bad decisions?

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