How To Fuck Up

Because you probably will, at some point in your life.

Since it's likely that you're going to fuck up, in some way, at some time, why not do it with grace and aplomb?

Me? -- I think that I "fuck up" daily.

For me, currently, my main areas of "fucking up" are: Acting towards other beings in ways that I wouldn't want them to act toward me, not upholding or adhering to my own principles, not practicing what I preach, not walking my talk, etc. . . . . . . oh, just a thousand different things or so.

Remaining conscious and consistent can be a real bitch, sometimes.

However, I really want to remain conscious and I want to be consistent to my own principles and ethics. For me, that is the definition of personal integrity.

If your personal goals/values/ethics/principles in life are different from mine, I have no problem with that -- honestly. Still, I'm guessing that, even if your goals, principles, and ethical standards differ from mine, it's likely that you might "fuck up" with your own stuff every now and again.

That's what this post is about. "How to Fuck Up" -- and how to clean up when you fuck up.

I have a little tool that I call "The Four A's" (from an absolutely fantastic teacher) and it has helped me through numerous fuck-ups in my life.

When you "Fuck Up" (whether the fuck-up is minor or major) practice the "Four A's".
  1. Acknowledgment
  2. Apology
  3. Amends
  4. Action
#1) Acknowledgment -- is really important, IMO, because if you don't realize what you actually did, and how it was "fucked up", there's a high probability that you are going to do it again -- a very high probability.

#2) Apology -- is also really important -- but it has to be genuine (which requires #1 - Acknowledgment). Saying things like "I'm sorry if you felt bad about what I said/wrote" or "I'm sorry if your feelings got hurt", is completely different from saying "I'm sorry that I said/wrote that. I see how it was fucked up, and here's how I know that it was fucked up . . . . . ". (Keep in mind that "if" is a word reserved for hypotheticals, and doesn't usually refer to real life. When used in apology, "if" is usually just a dilutive, and if you can't really apologize, then don't apologize at all. Sort of a perverse Thumper ethic.)

#3) Amends -- sometimes the energy required to actually think about how you fucked up and make an honest acknowledgment/apology is enough to return balance to the situation (depends on the type of fuck up, though). In some cases, "making amends" might also mean returning money/energy/time that your fuck-up created for someone else. This can be returned in any of a number of creative ways. Example: If you got all defensive in an argument, and therefore the argument took eight hours instead of 30 minutes (hey, I'm a lesbian -- I can DO me some processing!), consider just giving the person with whom you got all defensive eight hours of your time to do for them something that they might have gotten done if you hadn't been all uppity-up in yourself being a defensive little shit (not that I've ever done that . . . .no, that has never happened with me. . . . . OK, maybe just that once . . . fuck it -- I'm completely busted here . . . .)

#4) Action -- This may be the most important of the 4 A's. If you know that you did something that was fucked up, and you've expressed that you're genuinely sorry that you did this fucked up thing, then really, the only concrete evidence of this will be that you will change what you do in the future. For me, if I don't take this step (action), the other three are just so much manipulation.

If you're thinking, "Well, if #4 is so important, and is really the critical thing, why bother with the other three?" Just trust me on this and try steps 1-3 out in real time. I've found them to be amazing, when combined with step 4. There is nothing . . . . nothing! . . . that melts my heart more than a heartfelt acknowledgment, apology, and offer of amends.

Not only that, but taking steps #1-#3 before moving into step #4 actually tends to make step #4 easier for me. If I know the other person now knows that I know that I fucked up, and that I felt bad about fucking up, and if I know that my fuck-ups have consequences (as in the amends I made), somehow taking a different action becomes so much more . . . . what's the word I'm looking for? . . . . . . Motivational?

If you're wondering what stimulated this post -- no, I did not specifically fuck up today (that I am aware of at the moment) -- (although it's likely that I did fuck up in some way today) -- (ok -- more than likely -- probable) -- (ok, more than probable -- nearly certain).

I'm OK with that. I don't mind fucking up nearly as much when I know the way back to grace.

My dad, who was a high-school band teacher before he retired, used to say: "If you're going to play a note wrong, at least play it wrong with gusto -- that way, someone might notice and give you the opportunity to correct it."

I love my dad.

[Reprinted from Teh PortlyDyke, 11/07]

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