Key Point: Sometimes we seem to regress before we can move forward. I’ve always said that living the Character Triangle with consistency and integrity is the absolute goal. I have also noted that in our humanity, perfection is the intent but it is also a lot to ask for. We are so flawed as people. So what happens if we step out of the Triangle?
Human fragility is NOT a license to apply the values of self-accountability, respect and abundance at our convenience. However most of us will likely and occasionally stumble out of character bounds. If it is a slight step out of character, it is reasonably easy to snap back in. But sometimes and hopefully rarely (if ever), we take a big step out. For some reason, often inexplicably, we do or say something to hurt someone. If we deeply believe in our value set, acting out of character involves a searing and lasting pain that makes us nauseous and takes our breath away. It sends us reeling into sadness and disappointment. First because we have upset another. Secondly, because we have hurt ourselves and taken a step backwards. If we do not feel that pain of deep personal disappointment then I’m not sure how much we really believe in the values in the first place. So what do we do when we really fall out of character and want to find a lasting path forward?
- The first and most important thing is to take it on the chin and recognize that you have stepped out of character.
- The second is to reach out and recognize the hurt you have caused someone. You must sincerely and humbly apologize to those you have transgressed. No excuses. This involves deep self-reflection as to why you acted the way you did. Remember that cause and effect are not closely related in space and time. So some serious, personal anthropological self “dig” is often necessary. This is hard work and might require the help of a wise counselor. It is also an opportunity for incredible self-learning, hopefully launching us to even greater self-awareness.
- If you are fortunate the person(s) you hurt will genuinely forgive you. That’s the greatest gift you can receive. Be grateful that someone cares enough about you to push you forward through forgiveness.
- You owe it to the person(s) you hurt to learn and then forgive yourself. This is does not mean forget. It does mean go forward with that scar you can touch to remind you that the pain of stepping out of character involves the fall into a deep dark disappointing hole; one you will avoid in the future.
Finding your character again in the Triangle,