When You Are Wrong

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?

  1. #1 by Clint on April 25, 2011 - 2:56 PM

    Very cool Eric! You’ve never offended me or anything but I’ll remember this post if you ever do! HA! I do ok on the admitting when I’m wrong part but have a real problem with being able to forgive some that have done wrong to me or my family… Especially when they never admit to doing wrong and just continue to do the same thing! I tend to be able to forgive in my mind and forget. The forgetting part I take a bit literal and really do just put that person out of my mind completely and I just end it there… We each have our own struggles and hopefully I can someday work through mine as you have!

  2. #2 by Katy on April 25, 2011 - 5:22 PM

    As people, our perfection is in our imperfections. We are often our own bully, beating ourselves up years after an event is long forgotten by others. I have a habit of talking through my id. A lot. I speak without thinking. I was raised with a dry and sarcastic humor. I’ve inadvertiantly hurt a lot of feelings along the way.
    All you can do is say I’m so sorry. Try to make things okay, and give it time. Most importantly, appreciate the people that love you in spite of yourself. It’s okay to be perfectly imperfect sometimes. Give yourself the freedom to screw up. It really will all be okay.

  3. #3 by Eric Barron on April 30, 2011 - 5:52 PM

    Katy, thanks for your perspective! It is reassuring to know that people do exist who allow us to be imperfect. I appreciate your insight…

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