Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to be going fine and then you experience a “suddenly?” You know what I mean….a moment when you suddenly realize that you forgot something major. You feel the rush of emotion come upon you and the blood begins to drain from your face. You know that what you forgot can never be undone and now, you have to deal with the impact of your forgetfulness.
Now, some of you may be saying, “I’m not clear regarding what you are talking about.” Well, here are some classic examples. Maybe you forgot your anniversary or someone’s birthday. Maybe you said you would meet someone somewhere and life got away from you and you totally spaced it out. Maybe you promised to follow through with the completion of something for your spouse and you now realize you totally allowed it to slip away from you. When these things happen, we find ourselves grasping for reasons and trying to locate an explanation that makes sense. However, sometimes, it doesn’t make sense at all. We allowed ourselves to get too busy or too distracted to remember something important.
So, how do you recover from this kind of mistake? I think the first thing we have to do is admit that we simply forgot and stop the rationalization. I remember a time when I promised Michael I would bring him a change of clothing because he was pressed for time and needed to dress up for a meeting. I arrived at our office empty handed and the minute I crossed the threshold of the doorway, I realized I had forgotten the clothing and there was no time to go home and get it. My brain started thinking of every kind of reason why I forgot and I began to build my case before Michael noticed I was empty handed. I had a great story prepared as I walked into his office. When he turned and looked at me and noticed I was not holding his clothes, I saw the disappointment in his face. I knew I had let him down and I wanted to justify my actions so bad. He looked me in the eye and said, “You forgot my clothes didn’t you?” I opened my mouth and what came out even surprised me, “Yes, I did and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” “Wait,” my thoughts said, “Tell him the whys!” But I could see that the whys wouldn’t change the fact that he was disappointed and hurt that I had forgotten.
You see, so many times when we disappoint others, we try to make the situation about us. We try to justify our behaviors or words when none of that will help change the situation. We need to learn what the other person needs at that moment and make sure we are meeting his/her need. Most of the time, they need us to admit that we forgot and leave it at that. They don’t need any elaborate story of WHY we forgot. Then, we need to be willing to let them feel what they are feeling and when they are ready, ask for forgiveness. We need to think about what we would want from the other person if the roles were reversed.
The fact of the matter is that we will always forget things and hurt people. The sooner we realize that we aren’t going to be perfect and accept that, the easier it will be to do the right thing when we do forget. Can you remember a time when something like this happened to you? How did you handle it? If you could go back in time, what would you do differently? Is there someone in your life waiting for an apology because you hurt them in this way? Today is a good day to take care of that!!