There are only a small number of things that are guaranteed in life. Death and taxes are two things that most people mention that can’t be avoided. One other to add to the list is failing. You will fail in your life. You will shoot and miss, apply and get rejected, and take risks that don’t pay off. No one likes to admit it, but everyone messes up. Sometimes our failings are small mistakes that go unnoticed and have very little impact on us. Other times, we make bad decisions that end up hurting us and the people who care for us most. Sometimes being wrong costs us money or a job, sometimes it costs us relationships.
As painful as it is to be wrong, there are ways to handle it well. Often times, the way we handle being wrong has a greater impact on our life than the initial wrong itself. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind the next time you mess things up:
Own It Early
The longer you drag it out, the worse it gets. If you wait for someone else to confront you on something you know you have done wrong, you will lose a golden chance to earn back some trust. Waiting around to see if you are found out makes it look like you are more upset about getting caught than you are about the bad decisions you have made.
Most of the time in life, there will be other people involved in your messes, and a lot of those times they will be partly to blame. The quickest way to lose credibility and respect however, is to try to blame your mistakes on other people. Don’t blame other people for things you have done wrong! Yes, they probably did bad things as well, maybe even worse things than you, but that doesn’t matter. They are not your problem, you are your problem. So, if you want to begin to turn the mess you have made into something better, start by taking personal responsibility for your part of the mess. Something like this would work: “This part of the mess is mine. I did it. It was wrong, and I have nobody to blame for it but myself."
Leave It Behind
This is important in two ways. First off, if you continue to make the bad decisions you just apologized for, people are going to stop taking you seriously. If you messed up, and have owned it, the next step is to do your best to make better decisions. You won’t be perfect, but you can make great effort, and effort is noticed and appreciated by those around you.
Second, when you’ve blown it, you can’t spend your life feeling guilty and beating yourself up. Take responsibility, work at doing better, and move on with your life. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself or punishing yourself, those you have wronged don’t need that. Also, when you have owned your sin with God, He forgives you and moves on. If He chooses to move on and not hold your past against you, then you should do the same.
You will inevitably let people down in life. If you can handle your failures with courage and honesty, however, you deepen your relationships with those around you, and also grow in the process!