“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.” – Benjamin Franklin
Everyone has faults. Some cause only minor harm, while others get in the way of relationships, career, mental health and personal development. The issue isn’t the existence of faults, but how we deal with them.
Begin with a self-inventory. Do any of these sound familiar?
- You’re short-tempered, prone to making rash decisions and acting impulsively, sometimes even hurting others in the process.
- You put off acting on projects and tasks until the last minute, creating undue stress and pressure on yourself and others.
- You drive recklessly or speed, maybe even driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- You don’t take care of your health, spend more than you should, gossip, tell lies, or shade the truth.
What do all these have in common? They’re your faults and you should own them. If you want to get past the guilt, shame, and remorse an accumulation of faults creates, however, you need to do more than own them. You also must resolve to mend them.
What happens when you own your faults? What does this process entail? How long does it take and when do you know you’ve completed it?
First, it isn’t necessary to do a gut-wrenching dump of every bad thing you’ve ever done all at once. You probably already know some of your biggest faults, even if they seem minor to others. If they bother you, or if you’ve been told many times that you tend to engage in certain bad behavior, these should be at the top of your list of faults to own and do something to mend.
Jot down on paper or keep a journal of faults you recognize in yourself. It’s also helpful to note the kind of action or approaches you might take to mend those faults.
For example, if you are constantly late, owning that and mending the behavior could entail going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. Even 15 minutes would help you achieve your goal of changing your behavior and thus mending your fault.
An overspending problem
Say you consistently overspend your budget, leaving little to no cushion for emergencies or being unable to pay the bills. Acknowledging this fault is the first step. Deciding what to do to change it is the next. You could set spending limits, cut up your charge cards, map out a budget and determine to stick to it. You might take a financial management class or research how to avoid overspending on the Internet. If you have a serious overspending problem, you may want to consider getting professional help to overcome it, including joining a self-help group such as Overspenders Anonymous or Spenders Anonymous.
Dealing with procrastination
A common problem is procrastination. It’s easier to put off doing what needs to be done at times than to dive in and do the work. Some of this may be learned behavior from childhood when parents said it wasn’t necessary to follow through on cleaning your room, picking up after yourself, or some other small chore. You might have developed a string of clever reasons why you couldn’t do it now. After getting away with the little white lies often enough, the bad habit of procrastination and shirking responsibility found firm hold. Now that you’re an adult, it’s tough to overcome.
Face the fact that you are a procrastinator. Resolve to change this bad habit. Enlist the support of a buddy, family member or loved one to remind you of your intention. Having someone support and encourage your efforts will help motivate you to change. Start with something manageable. Make a list of actions you can take to get the job done. Begin the work and keep going until it’s finished. Congratulate yourself on your achievement. It should feel good. It also should give you the confidence that you can tackle other areas of your life where you’ve put things off.
When you 1) identify, and accept responsibility for (own) your faults and 2) resolve to mend them, you’re taking proactive steps to restore balance, improve your life, boost your sense of self-esteem and accomplishment, and add to your overall joy of living. If the life you want seems out of reach, perhaps taking this self-inventory and crafting a plan to change your ways will help you achieve the goals you really want. It is all up to you. No one else can do this for you. The best time to get started is now.