I know when I make a mistake it can be hard to admit I’m wrong. I’m not just talking about in relationships, but in life too. How many times have I started to do something stupid, realized it was stupid, and then felt I had to try and cover it up? Rather than cover it up I’d be wise to admit I’ve done wrong and accept the consequences. Continuing in the mistake only leads to much greater consequences when it all unravels later.
Why am I blogging about this today? Because I woke up this morning and realized I’d done something I shouldn’t have. The mistake was made (mostly) by accident. I say “mostly” because as I was doing the wrong thing something nagged at me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it so I ignored the feeling. Several days passed by. Then this morning it hit my like a ton of bricks. I’m sure you’d love to know what the error was, but never you mind that. I’m going to keep that one to myself (and the people I had to apologize to).
I was faced with three choices this morning. Choice #1: Ignore the whole problem and hope it goes away on its own. Choice #2: Try to cover up for my mistake by getting people to act differently. Choice #3: Call the people I made the mistake with and tell them. From there do the best I can not to let my error cause them (or me) problems. Choice #3 is the right decision to make, but is the toughest in some ways. It feels shameful to tell people you’ve messed up on something when you should have known better. It’s just plain embarrassing. It also doesn’t feel good to face consequences when they might just go away on their own accord.
As though I were walking through mud, I made up my mind to do the right thing. I forced myself to call the people involved and admit my stupidity. They were really nice about it. I still may have consequences, but hopefully not.
I know you face these types of scenarios all the time. Maybe a friend asked you to keep their alcohol bottle in your backpack, and now it’s hidden in your room. You are faced with keeping it hidden and hoping nobody else finds it, trying to get it back to your friend before you’re caught with it, or just telling your parents you have someone else’s alcohol and you shouldn’t have done that in the first place. The third choice will go much, much better for you than if your parents find it on their own. Or, what if your younger sibling finds it and becomes dangerously drunk because he or she doesn’t know better. That’d be your own fault. What if you try to give it back to a friend, but are caught with it in the process and get into trouble with the law? You’ve made the mistake of holding it for someone in the first place, but right yourself before something worse happens.
If you can get into the habit of admitting errors before they blow up into something big, you’ll actually save yourself a lot of trouble. People will find you more trustworthy too; they’ll know you’re not guilty of something when you say you didn’t do it because you admit you did do it when you’re guilty.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT