What’s the worst that could happen?
Let’s say you inadvertently neglected a friendship. Or you dropped the ball with a business contact. You know you need to patch up the damage but are dreading the confrontation. So you put it off and put it off and now so much time has passed it seems like an insurmountable task.
Further procrastination is not the answer. The problem is, the longer you wait to address the elephant in the room, the more damage the elephant does to your brain space.
Play out the scenario. You finally reach out to that friend or colleague and no one responds. Or, worse, they chew you out for xyz and some such. And then what?
Except that you apologize for the offense, acknowledge truthfully to yourself what you contributed to the kerfuffle and then you apply any learnings moving forward into other relationships. You won’t be arrested by the friend police or sent on a Game of Thrones shame walk past your business contacts. You just keep living your life. Too simple? Dismissive, even? I challenge that.
We grow by learning. We learn, in part, through making mistakes. Recognize the fact that you will err because you’re human. Then own up to your missteps with honesty and integrity because you’re an adult.
Don’t apologize if you’ve done nothing wrong. Many of us, especially women, tend to apologize for everything whether we caused it or not. But if you recognize your error and are truly sorry, say so.
Beyond recognizing your part in order to apologize, this is about assessing what behaviors you exhibited that impacted the relationship. Were you selfish, condescending, careless with information, unreliable? Are these trespasses you’ve committed before? Is there a pattern of conduct you recognize in yourself? How do you feel about these patterns?
If you keep notes on business leads, make a note for yourself about your relationship status with that person. If it’s a personal relationship that was damaged, you may wish to journal about the event to find a way to reestablish contact or to close the chapter. It’s also a good idea to speak with a trusted friend or your coach to brainstorm ways to improve the undesirable behavior so as not to bring it forward into other relationships.
Once the event has passed and you’ve made amends to the best of your ability, simply, forgive yourself. No one deserves to dwell in self-punishment forever.
The bottom line is, we don’t avoid what we fear. We face it and we grow.