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Four Things to Do When You Mess Up

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from the rear by carrier on flickr

from the rear by carrier on flickr

We have had plenty examples of public figures lately who mess up in their lives and then back pedal on TV trying to repair their images. We’ve even seen most of them deny any wrongdoing in the face of overwhelming evidence then later come back before the camera to apologize.

While the messes we make in our lives may not mount up to the embarrassment and loss of income of these public figures, we can learn from their poor handling of their mistakes.

You may argue that what a public figure does in his or her private life is none of our business. The truth is that the same visibility that enables them to enjoy fame and riches has a dark side. It exposes them to public view.

Now what can we learn from them about handling mistakes?

1. Mess up, fess up

Of the six things that Proverbs 6:16-19 says the Lord hates, a lying tongue and a heart that devises wicked plans are two things we all tend to hate.

The kinds of deception we’ve observed from public figures recently were uncovered after many years of devising wicked plans and coverup. If this is the case for you, it’s certainly not easy to step forward with the truth. Like the celebrities most of us don’t volunteer the dirt on ourselves unless we can no longer hide it.

Once you are staring in the face of your wrongdoing, lying or deception, your quickest relief will come from openly confessing the wrong deed(s).

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. –Jim Davis

2. Be quick, but not slick

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.” Adrienne Rich

Admit your wrongdoing immediately and speak sincerely. This is no time for a script or trying to twist the blame onto someone else.

3. Stick to the facts, Jack

This is no time for justifications, excuses or long background stories to set the stage for a plea. And please, don’t imply that you were unfaithful because you just wanted to have some fun. Say what you did as objectively and unemotionally as possible.

The more you talk in these situations the more likely you’re going to stray into lying again. Most people don’t want to hear your sob stories, and they will only deepen the pain felt by the people you directly or indirectly wronged.

4. Take the blows, Rose

Confessing your wrongdoing, admitting your lies and asking for forgiveness don’t save you from the consequences of your actions. Once upon confessing to a lie, I remember that losing the trust I built up over years with a loved one was more painful than a physical hurt.

Sure, you should ask for forgiveness, but expect to suffer some consequences as well. Even in small matters, consequences can sting. Then use the experience to prevent future deception, even if avoiding the pain of confession and consequences is your motivation.

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