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Mistakes Happen- How You Deal With Them Matters -Shenae Osborn, LMSW, MA

Nobody on this planet can say they have never made a mistake. We are human and it’s natural. The thing is- how do you handle situations where you made the mistake? When someone makes a mistake and points the finger, refusing to take ownership…this can be frustrating. I don’t know about you but, I have much more respect for people that take ownership and apologize. I see strength within that person.It reminds us that we are not perfect but that they respect you as a person as well. Taking ownership of one's mistakes is a learning experience.

I know that we can feel embarrassed when we make mistakes. I know I certainly did when my calendar did not have a client showing for a session. Obviously I didn't mean to miss the session with the client but, it reminded me of how much we rely on our online calendars to tell us where to go next, what we are supposed to do- almost like robots. This was a bit unsettling for me to realize. What happened to the days when we used our hand-written journals to keep our appointments? I mean, I am sure people still use them but the convenience of having everything on our phones, at the tap of a button… it’s just so easy.

In making a significant mistake, at first thinking the client was wrong, I went onto my online calendar and realized in fact a week had already passed. After gulping at my mistake, I placed my “tail between my legs” and apologized. I realized I couldn’t do more than offer a genuine apology and ensure that I took the measures necessary to not let this happen again. Lesson learned! The important thing when offering an apology and trying to make things right is to actually be genuine. A simple, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. I have come to realize that the words “I’m sorry” and “I love you” have become too casual, easy to say without really understanding the significance of the words. How many times have you heard people say, “Oh my God, I love you!” or an apology seeming more like a chore or obligation versus a sincere reaction of making a mistake or hurting someone/ something? I have told my sons that when they are going to apologize for something they did wrong, take a moment to think about what they did wrong. Are they really sorry? If they are, are they ready to apologize? I don’t expect my sons to apologize right away if they are not going to be genuine. I prefer they have time to think about their mistake, perhaps talk it over and understand why what they did was wrong then apologize when they are ready not simply because it is a knee- jerk reaction. When they are ready they are not allowed to simply say, “I’m sorry”, they are expected to say why they are sorry. “I’m sorry for…”. In doing this I am trying to help them understand the value in the words they say to another person, especially when they have hurt the other person. I am hoping that once they are of age and on their own, they will have learned to be genuine with their words and give phrases like “I’m sorry” and “I love you” a true, significant meaning- one that people will understand as being real and not done just in passing.

As parents, we have opportunities to teach our children how to treat others. Mistakes are opportunities for us to show how we handle uncomfortable situations and decide if we are going to learn from them. They are opportunities for us to be role models. We can prove a lot about ourselves in how we handle our mistakes. You’re human! You will make mistakes… more than once. It’s okay. Just take a moment to breathe, decide how you want to handle the situation and remember to learn something in the process. It’s only a moment in your life but the way you handle yourself can leave a lasting memory for a lifetime.

Picture compliments of Family First

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