Whether we intend to or not, sometimes we simply screw up. If you did, no worries! Here are a few tips on what you can do to correct it.

5 Ways to Fix a Major Screw Up:

1- Own It:

Take responsibility for your action. There’s nothing more frustrating than when someone refuses to own up to what they’ve done-especially when those behaviors and actions caused harm. While we’re often willing to overlook and forgive an error in judgment or a transgression, we tend to hang onto it more tightly when the person who caused the harm refuses to take responsibility. Instead of blaming others, making excuses, getting defensive, ignoring it or assuming the other person doesn’t need an explanation or apology, take responsibility for the part you played (whether intentional or not) by owning it.

2- Use Their Language:

In his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, author, Gary Chapman, explains how there are different ways to communicate love and the secret to a love that lasts is found in communicating in the way your partner wants and needs to hear it. So, when trying to fix a major screw up, the same idea applies. It’s not about communicating your awareness, understanding or apologizing in a way that works for you, but rather in the way that’ll resonate with the person you hurt. Do they need a kind gesture or a sincere apology? Convey your message in a way that they can appreciate the sincerity of your effort.

3- Remorse, Empathy, and Restitution:

Remorse is defined as deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed. Empathy is understanding and sharing another person’s experiences and emotions. Restitution is an act of restoring or a condition of being restored. When it comes to fixing a major screw up, these three conditions work beautifully together, and they lay the foundation for forgiveness. Now, sometimes an action can’t be fixed; however, is there a way to think outside the box to find something you can do to demonstrate your willingness to right the wrong? Remorse, empathy, and restitution may sound something like this: “I’m so terribly sorry (remorse). I understand why you’d be upset. I get it and I’d be upset and hurt if you did that to me (empathy). What can I do to make it up to you?” (restitution).

4-Learn From The Mistake:

Our actions emerge from our current level of awareness. When we come from a place of fear and lack, our actions demonstrate that. When we’re in a place of love and abundance, our actions show that too. A major screw up most likely comes from a place of fear and lack, and unfortunately, it’s pretty common. Over 97% of those who participated in a recent study I conducted indicated that they had been betrayed by someone they trusted and depended on. Mistakes, however, also come from love and abundance. When they do, odds are that they’re probably unintentional. In either case, learn from the experience so that you don’t repeat it. Did you act without thinking? Fail to consider the consequences or the other person’s needs? Did an inflated ego or pride cause you to say or do something you now regret? Asking a question as simple as, “Would I like that done to me?” could be a good barometer in determining the appropriateness of the action.

5-Self-Forgiveness and Paying it Forward:

Once you’ve taken responsibility for your actions and behavior, communicated in a way the person you hurt will understand, were remorseful, empathetic, offered restitution and learned from it, there’s still more you can do. Forgiveness takes time along with consistent effort to repair the damage done- so have patience. The bigger the mistake the longer it can take because the person you hurt may be reeling from the shock, pain or anguish you caused. They have to adjust to new ground as they acclimate to what they’ve just experienced by your actions. This process is now about them as they evaluate what role they may have played, as well as what changes they need to make to feel valued, safe and secure again. While they’re working through the pain- healing, changing and growing as a result of what they’ve just been through- now is also the time to work on self-forgiveness. Sure, you may feel guilt and shame for the pain you caused, but that doesn’t help anyone.

Forgiving yourself allows you to use what you’ve learned to grow, thereby becoming a more awakened and enlightened version of yourself. You can use your new awareness to not only ensure it won’t happen again, but to also help others by what you now see so clearly. Paying it forward by preventing someone else from experiencing that pain doesn’t mean you didn’t cause the harm, but it may just be what’s needed to prevent someone else from causing or receiving a painful experience. Paying it forward also contributes to the greater good, and that’s what life is all about.

Have you hurt or been hurt by someone? How did the experience help you to grow? We’d love to know, comment and share!

– Dr. Debi