There always seems to be consequences for the smallest things we do. "Every action has a reaction." You've heard it said before. But it doesn't just have to be about the bad actions in our lives.
Here's the situation: You got yourself into a really awkward misunderstanding and possibly some major consequences. The problem is, you really didn't do anything that big. You might call it not paying attention, missing some cues somewhere or that it's just a case of bad discretion. But now your friends aren't really sure that they can trust you or where you stand with them.
Now you're stuck in a kind of limbo. If you had done something really big, you would know what to do or how to apologize. But it's all sort of mixed up, and the best way you can think of to apologize is just to say you're sorry for not being careful. But that's just so vague and doesn't help you know how to change your actions or what not to do in the future. It doesn't even seem worth it to say or do anything. In one light, the ones who seem to really have the problem are the people making a big deal out of what seems to be nothing. Why can't they just get past it. Seriously, what's the big deal that all the sudden you have to be smacked with all these restrictions just because you were a little blind to what was going on!? But you know if you react that way, you will surely lose your relationship with them. It may seem to be the easiest way, but the long term result doesn't look so pretty.
Then there's the other side of the coin. You apologize for, well, you're still not exactly sure what, and accept the new restrictions. That's kind of hard and makes very little sense! Why should you have to accept consequences for something that wasn't completely your fault and, at the end of the day, no one is sure exactly what to say you did? If you had just been a little more careful, used a little bit of common sense, none of it would have happened, and there would be no rift in the relationship. But the fact remains, you messed up. No matter how small or unclear it seems, you still messed up.
So now you have a decision to make. Do you apologize, take the restrictions and try to work things out, or do you try to proclaim your innocence or argue that it's just not that big of a deal. The punishment doesn't fit the crime! Well, let's take a moment to look at this from a completely different angle. What would have happened if you hadn't made any waves; no trouble came up in your relationship? Well, there wouldn't be an issue. Your relationship would be fine and they wouldn't think any less of you.
Ok, good. That seems like the best thing that could have happened - or is it? What really makes relationships strong? The ones that stand the test of time and - oh yes - hardships! If you respond with a bad attitude, you absolutely know their opinion of you is going to be bad. No question about that. But what if you respond with a good attitude and say, "O.K. Yeah, I messed up and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make it right. Even if those consequences are a little harsh, it's worth it." The other party knows if they appear to be hard. But when you buck up, stand up and take it without excuses, they know you are serious about making things right and continuing the relationship on the best of terms possible. That makes them take notice. That tells them, "Hey, he's serious about this." That leaves a good impression. Maybe even a better impression than if you never made any mistake at all.
Is your mind still spinning or did you really grasp that? Your relationship with your friends or colleagues actually might be better and stronger after a mess up than before - if you choose to handle it well. Anyone can act right in good situations, but it takes a strong character to respond well in hard situations. That's when you show your true colors. So the next time a tough spot comes up in your life, choose the high road! Prove that bad consequences really can have a good reaction.