So now that the mistake has been made and you’ve hired David Moyes (lol), or rather, the milk is on the floor…what do you do next? Side step the milk and walk past like nothing happened…or pick up a mop and clean it up? The latter doesn’t change the fact that milk was spilled, but taking responsibility and doing the right thing gives one the opportunity to start afresh. Start aright and do what one failed to do earlier for one reason or the other. Sometimes it may even be possible to regain some of the shine and lustre that your life once had – but with the added bonus of a clear conscience. Peace of mind and being able to sleep at night are really the number one ingredients to happiness and prosperity. Something no amount of money can buy, and should be striven for by all. This journey requires courage though, and is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but for the few brave exceptions out there, here’s how its done :
- Come to your senses and own your mistake. This is where you get out of denial and blaming everything and everyone else, and see the situation for what it really is. Your mistake. Yes, the circumstances may have been against you, or somebody didn’t do what they were supposed to do, or you just had a bad day or week. But ultimately, even if it was in a split second, there was a moment of decision where you’d have said to yourself, ‘I’m going ahead.’ Unless there literally was a gun to your head, the decision was yours. And one of the hallmarks of maturity and adulthood is the ability to take responsibility for one’s actions and the consequences thereof. Children play the victim and the blame game, but adults realize that they play an active role in determining their own destiny.
- Come clean and tell the truth to those affected by your mistake. Admittedly, this is where the majority of us would struggle, but trying to cover things up rarely works in any sphere of life. The truth cannot be hidden and even if it takes years, it will either be exposed or it will expose itself, so its usually just a matter of time. Tell them how the mistake affects them. Apology in tow. Consider how hiding the information you’re hiding robs them of their right to make informed decisions and determine the course of their own lives. (And also how it keeps you a prisoner and stops you from yours.) There really is an element of selfishness and playing God that comes in when we withhold information from someone that could potentially affect their decisions or future. No human being has the right to decide the destiny of another person. And besides, we have all heard the biblical adage that, ‘The truth will set you free.’ It sets us free of the weight of falsehood on our conscience, but it also sets those affected free to decide for themselves what they will do. How others respond to the truth is neither in our hands nor our responsibility. But ours is only to the truth.
- Make an action plan to correct/fix it. Don’t walk away, burying your head in the sand. If a mess has been made, somebody is gonna have to clean it up. And sometimes, the longer you take, the worse it becomes. Consider what’s at stake if nothing is done. Sometimes it’s Destiny. Imagine for example, what would have happened to Manchester United had they not fired David Moyes. *gasp* If they had said, ‘Its too late, we’ve already made the mistake of hiring this coach. It’s a bad decision and we will just live with the consequences.’ And the club continues on a downward spiral. That Great club as we know it would have been reduced to rubble, in my opinion, because the wrong man was hired for the job. But thankfully, someone drew a line in the sand and said ‘Enough! We made a mistake, and for the sake of the future that lies ahead, we are going to correct it right now.’ Depending on the magnitude of the problem, some folks can get overwhelmed by the situation and depressed to the point of paralysis. If there’s a problem and you know it needs to be fixed but don’t know how – Don’t let it fester until your heart is sick and your soul starts to die slowly. Get other people involved that would help in solving the problem. Very few mistakes are ever terminal and once you get over the fear of what people will think, you’ll be ready to take the necessary steps to walk in the right. See clearly in your mind where you are and where you need to be, and then determine what needs to happen or the steps that must be taken, who needs to take those steps and the amount of time these actions will take. Then start on that plan. Realizing is one thing, correcting is another, and the difference between the two is action.
- When the dust settles, Reflect on your role and address the root issues . They say if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them, and so reflecting is vitally important. Granted there are some mistakes which are harder to repeat than others, but its important for us to recognise the patterns, habits and ways of thinking that cause us to live and act in certain ways, leading us to those poor decisions in the first place. Think about your role in the whole fiasco and what led you there. What should you have done differently? When this is clear, you’re on your way to your desired future. The other part is to act on these reflections. If your issue is not trusting your conscience and gut feelings, then its time to realise that God gave it to you for a reason, as a compass that leads you in the direction you should go. If it feels wrong in your heart and there’s no peace, that’s the compass saying this is not the way. Turn left. Get more attuned to that frequency and take better turns. If your issue is always deferring to others for advice or seeking their approval, realize that advice sometimes is just someone’s best guess and it can, from time to time also be wrong. Those people have not walked in your shoes or lived your life, and neither will they do so should you implement their ideas and they turn out wrong. Ultimately, other than God – your life is your own and your heart knows what you really need. Don’t listen to those who tell you what to do, but those who tell you to do what you know in your heart is right. Because it is in staying true to your heart that you will truly be happy, regardless of what everyone else says or thinks. If your issue is with drugs or alcohol and the toxic friends they come with, recognise those triggers and decide on a new path. Walk away. Seek out new friends, new hang out spots etc. Do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t fall into the same path that leads you in the opposite direction of where you want to end up in life. It may not be easy in the beginning, but you’re starting on a lifelong journey and those always begin with putting one foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
- Finally, and probably the most difficult step even after all the above have been done is to Forgive yourself. This is probably the hardest because you say to yourself, I should have known better. I’m supposed to be smarter than this. How did I fall for that lie? Why did I get involved with that person? How did I not see it coming? Why did I make that decision? And the answer, despite your lofty opinion or expectations of yourself, is simply because you are Human. I say it’s the answer, not the excuse. Because while our fallen nature means we are less than perfect and miss the mark from time to time, it should not become the scape goat for a lifestyle of bad decisions and recklessness. But it is still true that sometimes the messy and embarrassing situations are really what bring us face to face with our humanity, and just how fallible we are. But don’t dwell on the past. Instead, learn from it. As cliché as it sounds, we all make mistakes. Some in glorious ways and others in not so glorious ways. But when we repent and confess our sins to God, He forgives and does not hold our sins against us. How then and why should we hold our sins against ourselves, as if to say we are greater than God? The one who created you, the one to whom you belong forgave you and let it go. And so you too must find it in yourself to forgive yourself and let it go. Don’t let it define you or the rest of your life, because Failure is an event. Not a person. It is what happened, it is not who you are. Embrace the Grace that God gives you to right the wrongs and to make better choices going forward and see the rest of your life becoming the Best of your life. While breath remains, there is always hope still, so Rise up and Walk! The future is yours for the taking 😉