Everyone needs a healthy ability to own up to their mistakes.
Because everyone makes mistakes.
When you make mistakes, you need to be able to own up to them and fix the issue before it has a chance to escalate and undermine or even destroy your relationship.
No one likes being misled or deceived.
If you try to hide your mistakes or shift the blame, you can bet they will eventually eat away at your relationships, be that with friends, loved ones, or colleagues.
The good news is you can own up to your mistakes in a healthy way that actually strengthens your relationships.
It will be uncomfortable, because let’s face it, it is uncomfortable to accept that you’re flawed and admit it to others.
Still, good things happen when you can accept discomfort and take responsibility for your actions.
Let’s look at 8 tips to help you own up to your mistakes and keep those relationships strong:
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you become more comfortable with and willing to own up to your mistakes. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
Self-reflection can reveal unhealthy patterns of thinking and acting, and it allows you to become more self-aware when you make a mistake.
Self-awareness gives you insight into the thoughts, feelings, motivations, and intentions that led to the mistake.
Understanding these helps you to identify any subconscious fears or insecurities that may have influenced your behavior.
You may also find patterns in your thinking, emotions, or behavior that cause you to repeat the same mistake over and over.
Identifying the root cause of the mistake gives you the ability to address and correct it.
2. Acknowledge your mistake promptly.
Acknowledge your mistake when you become aware of it.
Approach the person you wronged, inform them you made this mistake, and admit that you were wrong.
Do this even if they haven’t figured it out themselves. Even if they may never figure it out themselves.
They will resent you if they find out you kept it from them because it means you have lied to or manipulated them over a long period.
The longer you wait, the worse it will be for you.
Furthermore, waiting to admit the mistake gives it a chance to escalate into something much bigger.
The faster you admit it, the quicker you can resolve the issue and minimize the impact on others.
This is particularly important in a professional setting where time is money, and an escalated mistake can be far more costly than a minor one.
3. Be honest when you admit your mistake.
Honesty is the best policy in life, even if it has painful repercussions (which it often does).
Even if you don’t want to admit that you were wrong, it’s still the best choice because honesty is an important part of your character.
Not only does it build trust, but it also keeps untrustworthy and toxic types away from you. Shady people stay away from those who are likely to judge them negatively or spoil their deceitful plans.
So be honest and direct when you admit your mistake.
Avoid trying to justify bad behavior. Just lay it out there as clearly as you can, and as honestly as you understand the mistake to be. Your perceptions about the problem might be different than theirs, so it’s important to hear and accept their perspective too.
You need the truth if you want to fix it, so focus on the facts.
4. Take ownership of your mistake.
What does it mean to ‘take ownership?’.
It’s a simple statement of not deflecting blame.
You say, “I did this thing. It was my responsibility. I apologize. What can I do to fix it?”.
You are communicating to the other person that you acknowledge it was your responsibility and choice, no one else’s.
Ownership also helps should your dislike of being corrected by someone prevent you from acknowledging the mistake.
By owning it, you’re removing the ability for a third party to interject their own opinions and perceptions. It is between you and the person you wronged, no one else. And that’s a good thing.
The more people who get involved, the more the situation gets distorted because people throw their own experiences into the mix. This can make it harder to resolve the mistake.
If the mistake did involve others, avoid bringing up their roles in it. Focus on your role and repairing the mistakes you made.
You shouldn’t accept responsibility for the actions or choices of others, but you shouldn’t deflect the blame onto them either.
5. Maintain your composure and minimize defensiveness.
Admitting to a mistake is uncomfortable.
It is an acknowledgment of a lapse in judgment. Maybe something that seemed like the right thing to do turned out to be wrong.
And admitting you’re wrong is hard to do.
Furthermore, the other person may be angry or sad about the mistake, which adds to the discomfort.
It’s up to you to do your best to maintain your composure while addressing the situation. That doesn’t mean you should be an emotional punching bag or allow yourself to be abused. However, their being angry about the situation is a reasonable reaction.
Do your best to avoid defensiveness while discussing things, even if accusations are made against you.
Don’t try to argue your way out of it or justify your behavior. Again, anger is a reasonable reaction from someone who was wronged. Maintaining your composure will prevent the situation from escalating.
6. Express regret for causing harm.
To express regret is to humanize a mistake.
We all make mistakes. What sets us apart is how we handle them.
Regret is an acknowledgment that you understand your actions were harmful and that you’re remorseful.
There’s a strong chance the person you wronged has made mistakes that they feel remorseful about, which may help them sympathize and accept your apology.
Expressing regret facilitates open communication. It creates a space where people can share their feelings about the mistake and communicate its effects.
The openness will better help you understand the perspectives of the people involved, and that way you can more easily work towards a resolution.
7. Accept the consequences of your mistake.
Every action has a reaction. Every mistake has a consequence. Don’t run from them, even if they’re bad.
Don’t let fear of looking stupid stop you from stepping forward and doing the right thing. That’s just part of taking responsibility for your mistake.
The more easily you accept it, the quicker and easier it is to remedy the mistake because you’re not wasting time trying to work through your defensiveness. Accepting the consequences is just a natural byproduct of fixing the mistake.
Don’t look at consequences as a bad thing, even if they are.
Instead, look at them as a chance to embrace self-improvement and grow. You know you made a bad decision, you know you were wrong, and now you can use that lesson to make a better choice in the future.
8. Come to the table with solutions.
What ideas do you have for solutions to fix the mistake?
Since you made the mistake, you should come to the table with ideas on how to fix it.
Granted, the other person may not find the resolution acceptable, or they may have other ideas, but that’s where healthy communication comes in.
The two of you will need to discuss the situation to find an amicable solution that works for both of you.
You may find you need to take a little brunt of the mistake to rectify it, but that’s normal.
Many people have a hard time accepting that they make mistakes.
They don’t want to admit it because they feel that admitting a mistake is admitting weakness, and to admit weakness will make them a target.
In fact, the opposite is true.
Admitting that you made a mistake is one of the most powerful things you can do for your integrity and your relationships.
It is true – sometimes honesty can cost you.
But it’s far better to pay that debt on your terms than to live in fear of what other people will discover and the repercussions of those secrets.
It’s okay to step up and admit you made a mistake. You’ll learn from it, grow from it, and be a better person as a result.
Still not comfortable with owning up to your mistakes?
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.
They can help you to examine why you hate admitting your mistakes so much and provide specific guidance to help you overcome this aversion of yours.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address.
And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome behaviors they don’t really understand in the first place. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.