A 6 minute read 🙂
If you’re reading this, you probably think you’re a piece of sh*t. Or, you’re supporting the hustle – thanks in advance 😉 In the words of Hannah Montana, EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES. Its a normal, necessary part of life that we all have to navigate through. Here are 6 tips to help you out if you’ve hurt someone and you’re having several breakdowns over it, lol.
1. Be honest with yourself
What were your intentions behind the decision you made that ultimately led to hurting someone? Can you justify your actions? As long as what you thought you were doing was for the best, you should be able to find peace soon.
You need to determine whether you want to stick by your decision or if you should abandon it in order to accept that your judgement was at fault. Personally, this is pretty easy for me, although I may not always admit it immediately – I know when I am in the wrong and I can certainly admit it to myself.
It is so easy to let our egos guide us. Often, we will lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that we are in the right, when a lot of the time, we aren’t. Unless you’re a Capricorn, then you’re always right 😉 Seriously though, unless we are authentic with ourselves, how can we expect others to be genuine towards us?
Accepting that you have done something to hurt someone, and understanding that you have caused someone pain, is one of the most self-less things you can do. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but being able to look yourself in the mirror and say ‘Hey, I really messed up and this is my fault – I will hold myself accountable’ will help you out greatly in life. Integrity is probably the best quality that anyone can strive to have.
2. Apologise abundantly
When I mess up and hurt someone, I will apologise a lot. Guilt consumes me so I cannot bear to think that someone I have hurt is under the impression that I do not regret it. Shortly after you have hurt someone, I think you can never apologise enough, reassure them that you care about them as they probably feel extremely vulnerable and perhaps neglected by you.
Remember, you aren’t apologising for forgiveness, that would be selfish. You are apologising because YOU KNOW that what you did was distasteful and you want them to know that you did not mean to hurt them. When someone thinks that you have purposefully tried to hurt them, it is emotionally draining, so it is important for you to lay your cards out on the table to show them that you accept responsibility.
Whatever you do, don’t blame them, or anyone else for that matter. In the past, I’ve found it WAY too easy to delegate the blame onto other people – however, having grown since then, I’ve learnt that you are 100 percent liable for the mistakes you make. Why? Because you made them. Even if someone persuaded you to make the a specific choice, you still decided to make the choice. Basically, unless you were blackmailed into hurting someone, it’s your fault. This isn’t about anyone else but you and the choice you made.
Own it. Most likely, you did what you did within good reason. So, if they give you the chance to apologise – explain your decision in great detail so that, if they want to understand, they can step into your shoes and see things from your perspective.
3. Prepare yourself for their anger
My mum ALWAYS tells me to expect the worst. Some might think that’s a pessimistic way of thinking, and maybe it is, but it sure as hell equips you to deal with someone’s wrath haha.
They’re allowed to be angry, you have to remind yourself of that. If you hurt someone, you have no control of how they feel – even if you wouldn’t be hurt if it was the other way around. Everyone grows up with different experiences in life and so we all have different kinds of wisdom to guide us through difficult situations. Understand that you don’t know what they are going through, distance yourself if need be to respect their emotions and space as much as you can. Wouldn’t you want them to respect yours?
If the person you have hurt is not emotionally mature, they may resort to character assassination (throwing dirt on your name) in order to gain more sympathy from others. This is usually done by exaggerating the truth. It is most likely to happen before you have apologised, however, sometimes it can occur when you have apologised several times and they are still upset about it. As I mentioned previously, everyone is different but immature people will stop at nothing to get sympathy and for people to agree that you are a ‘bad person’.
Naturally, you may want to clear your name. Whenever someone goes out of their way to ruin my reputation, it’s so tempting for me to just text mutual friends and defend myself. However, you can learn a valuable lesson from this: if you upset Bob, and Bob throws dirt on your name to Billy, and Billy doesn’t defend you, or believes Bob or throws dirt on your name to Brian – then Billy was never someone you needed in your life anyway. Billy wasn’t a good friend. Your real friends would never let someone tarnish your name for the sake of making them feel better. Also, don’t retaliate. It is best to keep quiet if drama kicks off; damage control is your best friend right now.
4. Never beg for or expect forgiveness
The minute you beg someone for anything, you have shown them that they hold power over you. In fact, you are handing them all of the power in the situation and that is risky because they might take advantage of your guilt. When you plead for someone’s forgiveness you have shown them that you are not coping well with the shame of hurting them. You are showing them that you are emotionally vulnerable right now and that you’ll do anything for their pardon; they may string you along for an ego boost and damage your mental health. Recognise when someone is using you.
Expecting forgiveness will only make you bitter and resent them for not understanding your regret or reasoning. If you have apologised enough, and they cannot accept it at this moment in time, leave them alone. The ball is completely in their court and you mustn’t interrupt their healing process. If you get involved while they are processing their pain, they may stray further from you as it looks like you exclusively care about their forgiveness, rather than acknowledging their pain.
Perhaps learning to forgive others is an element of their journey in personal growth.
5. Forgive yourself
Okay this is kind of a ‘no-brainer’ but personally I seem to forget this. When I accidentally hurt someone, and they haven’t found it within themselves to forgive me, I will think about what I did wrong for months on end. Its emotional torture but I only have myself to blame for it as the only person holding me back from happiness, is me.
If you have done everything you possibly can to respect them, and they haven’t forgiven you, maybe its time to forgive yourself. You can’t keep blaming yourself for something you did back then, you did it because in that moment, based off of your judgement, it was most likely the right thing to do, but to them, it was the wrong thing to do. As I keep saying, everyone is different and everyone holds different values. You might just have to accept being labeled as the bad guy in someone’s story.
Referring to Oprah helps me a lot when I make a mistake. She says ‘When you know better, you do better’. She’s absolutely right, humans are creatures that are learning how to do better, every single day. You did what you did because you didn’t know any better; you’ve probably never been in that situation before so you didn’t have the necessary life experience to influence your decision. Honestly, sometimes all you can do is accept your mistake, vow to never do it again and move on with your life.
6. Become the best version of yourself
I promise you, you will never be defined for unintentionally hurting someone. It was a moment in your life that went wrong, and sadly affected someone else’s life too – but that is never a reason to to think that you are your mistake. Want to know what defines you? Think about the things you do in life, for others.
You’re probably a good person, perhaps a REALLY good person if your moon sign is in Cancer (hahaha I’ll stop). Maybe you are kind to waiters, cleaners and bus drivers. Perhaps you send gifts or letters to your friends when they’re sad, or maybe to surprise them out of the blue. You might pay for your brother’s clothes when you go to a shop. You could be that person that helps a homeless person out with some money or food.
Maybe you listen to your friend’s problems for hours on end and spend a significant amount of time giving them advice. Possibly, you donate to charities regularly and you fundraise for them too. Are you that person that the drunk girl in the nightclub toilets can cry to about her awful ex-boyfriend whose name starts with a ‘J’?
What I’m saying is, regardless of your mistakes in life, I’m sure you’ve done a lot more exceptional things that outweigh all of your regrets. I am sure you know you are a genuinely lovely person who cares about others. So who cares if you mess up from time to time, that is life, we all upset people without meaning to. So accept it, sincerely apologise to them, completely forgive yourself and move on. Go and do some self-less things and build your generosity so high that no one could ever doubt your character.