Mistakes were made. Poor judgement was enlisted. Hasty decisions were made, and all of these factors resulted in a huge waste of financial resources and time. People were greatly inconvenienced, emotions were inflamed, innocents were negatively affected. Sturm und drang ensued.
Am I talking about Kim Kardashian’s wedding? No! Well, yes and no. Actually, I am the one who pulled a giant boner this week. I did what all humans do eventually: make a mistake. This mistake happened to be on a pretty impressive scale given my age, general intelligence and training, but nonetheless, it occurred. Because, as I heard Ernie sing on Sesame Street when I was a child, “Everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do.” Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not perfect. Who knew, right?
But I could be talking about Kim Kardashian. I could be talking about you, I imagine. I’m sure you can conjure up a memory, no matter how recent, of making a cringe-worthy mistake you sincerely regretted then and still do now. Mean words you wanted back in your mouth the minute they were out. Doing something cruel or petty or careless.
So what do you and Kim and I need to do to handle life’s eventual screw-ups? Luckily, there’s a way to fail spectacularly. First:
Own it. This may be the hardest part of turning failures into growth. You have to have the ego strength to look at yourself and take responsibility for your actions. Yup. That was a stupid thing to do. Sometimes it’s bound to happen. What’s important to remember is it’s just what you did; it’s not who you are. Everyone makes mistakes both by accident and premeditation sometimes.
Feel it. Explore. Feel down, embarrassed, dumb. Feeling guilty? Guilt can be a great motivator for change. Guilt says, “Wow, shouldn’t have done that. Won’t be doing that again!” I for one think Kim and I are not going to repeat some of the actions that got us into our particular messes. Now shame is different. Shame says, “There is something wrong with me.” Talk to a pro, please, if you feel shame. Because I’m betting that feeling isn’t all about what’s happening right now, now, is it?
Limit the pity party. Have a bad day, week over the mistake if you need. By all means, talk to people who can support you and remind you of your worth. But put a time restraint on how long you’re going to wear that hair shirt. Self-flagellation is counter-productive and won’t help you move on to make meaning of your mistake and fail spectacularly, which I’m meaning in a positive context here.
Let others have their feelings. My mistake cost others. Others have a right to be angry if your actions impact them. Ask for forgiveness, apologize. Tell them you must move on in order to make meaning of the situation but that you understand they are on their own time table. Asking what can be done to make amends goes a long way too.
Make meaning. I, for one, have changed as a result of making my spectacular fail. Let’s just say, for the epic proportions of this particular fail, I got off easy. Unfortunately, others suffered who had nothing to do with my poor decisions. I am determined not to be as selfish in the future. I am determined be a much more responsible human. I even think I influenced a friend to make fewer mistakes by sharing my story with her.
So Kim, if you’re reading this (and Kim Kardashian obviously awaits my counsel with the bated breath of Oprah for Dr. Phil), I, for one, am not judging you. You are human and need to be loved (with apologies to Morrissey here). You made some mistakes in that pursuit. I mean, this guy over Reggie Bush? But I digress. Kim, just own your part in it, get support through the divorce blues, realize you are the expert on you and no one else, and then donate all that money to healthcare for the homeless.
Because then, Kim darling, you and I will have failed spectacularly.