I know that many people will find this hard to believe, but I can be- and often am- wrong. And wrong was never a good thing to be in my family. My sisters and I were raised to be the best, to do the best, to work the hardest, to go the farthest, to understand the difference between wrong and right, and to always do- and be- right. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t very successful then, and have shown no great improvement in the years leading to adulthood (BTW- when I reach adulthood, you’ll be the first to know.).
At times, for various reasons, I am prone to losing my good sense and saying things that I later regret. While I know you can’t relate to that in your lives, let me share my experiences on how to proceed when you realize you are wrong. And I don’t mean wrong as in guessing the loser of the Super Bowl or of being convinced you know the directions to the theater, only to end up in Chinatown, but seriously wronging someone.
I believe following these steps will help you, should you ever find yourselves in the unenviable situation of having to face the fact that you’re wrong.
First, admit you are (or were) wrong. And don’t dilly-dally around it, sugarcoat, or otherwise spin it. Don’t justify your behavior, just admit you were wrong in your behavior or your speech or however your typical wrongness manifests itself.
Second, seek forgiveness. Now, I chose the work ‘seek’ instead of ‘ask’ for a good reason. You can ask forgiveness, and it be quickly, but not meaningfully, granted. Often times, a quickly-spoken ‘no problem’ or ‘you don’t owe me an apology’ may contain little real meaning, and may be a device for avoiding the situation. Rest assured, that may come back when you least expect it and bite you in the shins. By seeking forgiveness, you actually pursue genuine restoration and reconciliation with those whom you wronged.
Finally, move on. Don’t totally ignore that the situation occurred, but don’t dwell on it every time they walk through the door. Learn from it, apply the lesson, and move on.
When you do, a couple of things happen: 1) you grow as a person by learning to deal head-on with difficult, unfortunate, even painful problems; 2) you maintain and develop your character through those rough places. If you are sincere, those whom you offended and to whom you apologized will see you in a different light. They will know you are trustworthy and are a person of integrity; 3) it brings into perspective and balance the tough times cause by others you think are wrong.
In conclusion, I apologize to all of you whom I have ever offended at some time or another or have yet to offend. You know who you are.
What do you do when you realize you are wrong? Has anyone ever apologized to you?