Last Updated on April 15, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Wondering what to do when you say something you regret? If you’ve ever said the wrong thing and instantly wished you hadn’t then this article is for you!
My friends and family may be reading this and laughing out loud thinking back to a time when I opened my mouth and (should have) inserted my foot.
Ironically, for several years my favorite song was Alison Krauss’s’ When You Say Nothing At All (but that’s a whole other story).
As you can see, writing this article doesn’t mean I’m immune to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I don’t always have a way with words. But I’ll continue working to learn and grow from my mistakes, many though they might be.
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Wondering how to recover from something embarrassing?
Below you’ll find tips that have helped me recover from embarrassing (and potentially damaging) situations when I either said too much, said the wrong thing without thinking, or didn’t say what I meant.
You probably don’t need these strategies as much as I do. But, even so, I hope they’ll help you navigate difficult circumstances when you’re in these awkward situations.
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What To Do When You Say Something You Regret
1. Take a deep breath and pause.
After you say something you regret the last thing you want to do is overreact to the situation. If you said something hurtful (or inappropriate) you’ll deal with it. But first, take a few moments to decompress.
Collect your thoughts. Evaluate what happened. How serious is the damage? Really.
Taking a pause to clear your head can relieve stress and help you think more rationally about what went down.
2. Tell yourself the truth.
Keep perspective and know that whatever you said, it’s not the end of the world. Things will be okay.
Overreacting is never productive.
Everyone has these days. Everyone makes mistakes. But deep down you have a good heart and you didn’t mean for your words to come out the way they did.
And even if you did, there’s a way to make things right again.
It can help to write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal.
(You’ll feel inspired by these 20 quotes about compassion.)
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(Find out how to be a better listener with 10 easy tips.)
3. Sincerely apologize and make peace.
This may be the hardest step for
many most people but it’s imperative. If you hurt the other person – or even if you didn’t – but you know you were in the wrong, having self-awareness and saying you’re sorry can go a long way to making amends.
If you’re too freaked out to talk to them face to face (and they aren’t ready to talk to you up close and personal anyway) consider writing a thoughtful note or email expressing how sorry you are for hurting or offending them.
Whatever you do, don’t make excuses like I was just kidding or suggest they were being too sensitive.
Own up to your mistake and take responsibility. And whatever you do, don’t get defensive.
Validate their feelings. Even though you may have experienced the situation differently, arguing about what happened isn’t helpful. Each of us experiences life through our own unique lens.
It’s crucial to hear the injured party’s perspective and acknowledge that their experience and feelings are valid.
It’s also important to note that after you apologize don’t expect anything from the other person. Whether they choose to accept your apology or not is up to them.
If they welcome you back with open arms that’s awesome, but if not, it’s their loss and you can move forward knowing you did your best to make amends.
Which leads me to #4.
4. Move forward.
Move on down, move on down the ro-oad…
Don’t live in the past.
I’m not suggesting being insensitive here at all. I’m pro kindness all the way, baby!
(In fact, here are 50 ways to be kind.)
But if you worry about what you could have done differently or shame yourself for making a mistake you can get stuck repeating mistakes from your past.
God loves you and made you one-of-a-kind!
When you’re self-critical and hung up on what other people think of you, it keeps you from seeing yourself the way He does.
And it holds you back from living your best life and fulfilling your true purpose.
Moving forward in a positive direction allows you to reach outside of yourself to love and give more to the people around you.
So…if you’ve made a valid effort to do what’s mentioned in #3 above then move on, move forward, and give yourself grace regardless of how the other person or people may react.
You got this!
5. Learn and grow from your mistakes.
Use every opportunity in life, including the awkward, unpleasant ones, to improve yourself for the better.
See every situation as a learning opportunity.
A good time to do this is when you’re in a healthy head space and can separate your feelings from the circumstances.
Evaluate situations that don’t go as you’d hoped and brainstorm different and better ways to handle things in the future. Doing this will empower you to improve, grow, and learn from even the most uncomfortable social situations.
Learn more with the 10 habits of mentally strong people.
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Summary – What To Do When You Say Something You Regret
Most everyone can relate to saying awkward, uncomfortable and hurtful things to people from time to time. From the moment the words fall out of your mouth you wish you could put them right back in.
Saying something you regret is not unusual and doesn’t make you a bad person.
We don’t mean for it to happen, but sometimes it just does. When you find yourself regretting something you said I hope you’ll refer back to these strategies that can help!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions below in the comment section. X, Lori
If you enjoyed this guide on what to do when you say something you regret, you’ll want to check out:
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