We all mess up. We’ve all been making mistakes, intentionally or otherwise, since we first got here, and we just keep doing it right on through our lives. We all know this about ourselves and each other. And with mistakes, there are always consequences. Somewhere. Sometimes for us ourselves, sometimes for third parties we don’t know, and worst of all, sometimes for the people we know and love.
Taking responsibility for your actions is hard. It feels bad, to acknowledge that what we did hurt someone else, or meant that someone else was left to clean up a mess we made. It feels even worse when it wasn’t intentional, when we didn’t even get a chance to factor that into our decisions. But it’s so important to step up and take responsibility. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of an “I’m sorry your feelings got hurt” rather than a simple “I’m sorry” knows the difference between the former and the latter. The former deflects the blame, makes it the other person’s feelings that are somehow at fault. The latter accepts responsibility. Even an “I’m sorry, but…” doesn’t cut it. It’s an excuse. The person who’s been hurt doesn’t need your excuses, they need your apology. And most importantly, they need you to try to make it better to whatever extent you can.
It’s a struggle for me, personally. I was always the “good kid”. Getting in trouble, doing something wrong…I’m not used to it. It freaks me out, always has. I have to push back hard against myself to not go for “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’m sorry that hurt you…”. To let myself be the bad guy in a situation where I was wrong. But it’s so important. It tells the other person who exactly they’re dealing with, how you handle messing up. When someone deflects or excuses, you know you’re dealing with someone immature. But when someone admits that they were wrong, and tries to make amends…that’s when you know you’re dealing with someone worthy of your time. Be the person you’d like to deal with. Own up when you mess up.