Have you ever said something that you immediately wished you could take back; regreted making a statement that was hurtful, selfish, or just plain rude? Chances are, you have. And probably more than once. A few days ago, I said something out of line to a loved one, and after seeing them become upset over my unkind words, I immediatley wished I could rewind time. I felt guilty and remorseful, but was too proud to apologize at the time. I went to work and couldn’t stop thinking about what I had said. I felt terrible, and I knew I had to make things right. I immediately jotted down some notes in my planner. They read: “Let go of your ego, say sorry, explain yourself, and allow time for forgiveness.” While my scribbled notes were simple, I wanted to expand on my ideas and share with you four steps to making things right after saying something wrong:
1. Let go of your ego. At first, I was caught up in being defensive and trying to prove myself right. I was set on ”winning” and let my ego do the talking. Later in the day though, I realized how childish I had acted; leading any situation with my ego is never a wise idea. I realized that in this situation, I was wrong and trying to prove that I was right wasn’t going to make the situation any easier to deal with. I opened up my heart and embraced my mistake, instead of trying to fight it. I felt liberated and at peace with myself and was ready to take Step #2.
2. Apologize (but not until you’re ready.) Try not to blurt out “I’m sorry” before you really mean it. If you’re not sorry quite yet, I think it’s better to say, “I want to apologize but before I do so, I need to think about what I did.” Sometimes, you may feel sorry almost instantly. Other times, it may take a bit of time before doing so. Regardless of when you say it, make sure you mean it.
3. Explain yourself (while being honest and not defensive.) Explaining yourself doesn’t mean that you are making excuses or are trying to prove youreslf right. Explaining yourself simply opens the others’ eyes to where you were coming from. While the other party involved may not clearly see your point of view, they may have a better understanding of why you said what you did.
4. Give the other person time to accept your apology. When seeking forgiveness from another, it’s important that you don’t rush them. You can ask then and there if you are forgiven, or you can ask them to let you know when they have accepted your apology and are ready to move forward. Sometimes it will be instantly, other times it may take a day or two. Thankfully in my case, I was forgiven before I even said I was sorry.
The next time you’re in a situation when you wish you could rewind time and say something differently, don’t panic. Just follow my four steps above. Tame your ego and don’t be afraid to admit your faults. Admiting where you went wrong doesn’t mean you are weak, but rather shows you are strong enough to take the blame when necessary. Click here to read a blog post of mine about thinking before you speak. I think we could all use a refresher now and then.
Happy learning and growing,