It’s bad enough to make mistakes that affect us, but when our mistakes affects our family and loved ones, that is just pure torture. Furthermore, most of the mistakes that we make in life affect the ones that we love as well. For instance, a love affair might result in embarrassing your significant other once it is exposed. A legal issue which results in incarceration separates the parent from the child. Our insubordination at work might result in the loss of job which threatens the financial security of the family.
So how do we address working through mistakes with our family members?
These tips should help.
Acknowledge your errors. The last thing you need to do is deny what you did. It doesn’t matter if you meant to harm them or not, the point is, you did and taking ownership of that is the first thing that needs to occur before any progress can be made. It’s important to recognize that just because you admit that you made a mistake that caused them harm, doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. It just means that you are human. We must be careful about the language that we tell ourselves when we’re having difficult conversations because by misidentifying our messaging to ourselves, we also misidentify our messages to others.
Once we have acknowledged our errors, then we are free to validate their pain and the impact that your actions held on hurting them. Again, this isn’t about placing blame on yourself or anyone else. It is simply about providing a safe space for the person that you care about to experience pain and acknowledge and work through your unintentional role in contributing to the pain.
Once you’re able to provide a safe space for your loved ones, it’s a good time to consider the importance of providing your own self a safe space so that you can work through the issues that led to the harm you caused on your family. To do this, you may have to ask yourself tough questions. Why did you do it? What could you have done differently? What needs to take place so that this never happens again?
Then you have to do one of the hardest things in life… forgive yourself… so often we want other people to forgive us, but we don’t take the time to forgive our own selves. By behaving in this manner, we overlook the fact that it’s rare that we will ever truly be able to seek forgiveness from others when we show up in the world as an unforgiven and wounded person.
Once we have truly forgiven ourselves, then we can ask for our family to forgive us. To do this, you can simply say I’m sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me. When you say this, you have to truly mean it so that the person will feel as if you’re genuine. That means you must acknowledge your error, you must show that you’ve given some thought into what you have done to contribute to the area, and you must show that you have forgiven yourself and therefore are worthy of their forgiveness as well.
Once this occurs, you are then able to discuss and then share your plan to make sure that this event doesn’t happen again. That’s really what most families want to know…. What are you going to do to make sure that you never bring this type of pain on your family again?
Life is hard. Sometimes we make mistakes. If your mistakes are causing you distress and you need help resolving them, please contact one of our therapist today.