So you screwed up big time. Now you feel guilt, shame, and anger towards yourself. All of us make mistakes, but big mistakes can be difficult to overcome. Especially when you’ve hurt someone you care about. Instead of falling into deep despair and letting this bad moment define you and your future, follow these 5 strategies.
1 – Own It
You did it. You screwed up, and now you must own it. Sometimes we tend to place blame in someone or something else. Maybe you were grumpy that day, maybe you drank too many beers and made unwise decisions, for example. These situations may have been the case, but the bottom line is that it’s your fault. Throw the excuses out the door and accept that YOU made a big mistake.
2 – Apologize and Make It Right
After you screwed up big time, an apology may not be enough, but it’s a start. If your actions affected someone else, don’t assume that the situation is beyond saying sorry. The words may seem meaningless depending on what happened, but in the long run, it matters. If it’s a mistake that only affects you, then apologize to yourself. Ask yourself, “what can I do to make this right?” You can also ask the person you wronged this same question. Always, always, apologize.
3 – Reflect
Reflecting on the situation is important because it will help you identify any underlying issues. Many times we make a mistake because we are afraid of something or we are trying to avoid something. What is this for you? What weaknesses did you display? Do you feel as though you are missing out on something? In the past when I screwed up big time, I always asked myself these questions. Once you can honestly answer them, you can change course and take action.
4 – Change Course
After you owned up to your mistake, apologized, and had time to reflect, it’s time to change course. You must work on yourself to improve so that a mistake like this will never be repeated. Do some soul-searching and determine actionable steps you can take to be better. Maybe it’s taking some classes, seeing a counselor, or joining a support group. Find out what that is and take action.
5 – Let Go and Forgive Yourself
Finally, you want to let go and forgive yourself. Nothing can change the past and dwelling on it will only prevent you from moving forward. Yes, you made a major mistake, but you deserve to be able to move on and be happy as well. When I have trouble letting go, I always ask myself, “how am I benefiting by holding on?” Many times the answer to this question is more resentment, self-loathing, and decreased self-esteem. Are these benefits you really want in your life? Letting go doesn’t mean you condone what happened, it just lights the way for healing.
If you screwed up big time, use these five strategies to get through it. Nothing can erase your mistake, but things will heal quicker if you own it, apologize, reflect, change course and let go.
Shane Walker is a life coach, author, speaker, and founder of CreatingTrueHappiness.com.