With Groundhog Day here, my mind has turned to the elusive do-over. The 1993 Bill Murray flick named for February 2nd has to be one of my all-time favorite, watch-it-every-time-it's-on movies. For those who haven't seen it (and really, what kind of carpet are you living under? Netflix it immediately), the movie's plot centers around a crotchety guy named Phil Conners, played by Murray. Phil is forced to endure the same day over and over until he gets it "right."
The golden opportunity that Phil gets is to explore all of the different ways to play out his day. First, we meet the mean and selfish Phil, then the woman chasing Phil and then the do-gooder Phil. Finally, just when all hope is lost and Phil truly accepts his fate, we meet the real Phil. And on the morning of February 3rd, (spoiler alert!) we watch as Phil wakes up in the arms of the woman he loves. It's a new day, and he's a renewed man.
For Phil, the do-over worked. It taught him about the man he was on the inside -- the guy he was hiding from the world in favor of the person he thought people expected him to be. When Phil stopped caring about what others wanted from him, thought about him or believed about him, he was able to be his authentic self. And that proved to be the man who all the women in the movie fell in love with.
What can we learn from Phil? That do-overs are possible. When something in your life goes terribly wrong, it is possible to fix it. To wipe the slate clean, as we learn from Phil, you have to first get honest --honest with yourself and the person (or persons) you've harmed. You have to make amends.
There's no magic here, and yes, there are things that no apology in the world can fix. But if you have one of those "Oh my God, I can't believe I did, said, thought or acted that way" moments, you can create a do-over for yourself.
Forgiveness is something out of your hands. But if you're seeking it, here are a few tips to create your own do-over:
1. Change the setting. Making over an experience requires that you paint an entirely different picture. Pick a different restaurant, change your tone of voice or go to a different place to hold the conversation. Even if you're at home, you can go to a different room or outside. To change the memory, you have to first change the environment.
2. Fix what you did wrong by not repeating it. The big elephant in the room is the concern that what happened is a harbinger of things to come. Make sure that through your conversation, actions, attitude and behavior that you do not repeat the offending action. What we're talking about here is building trust with the person harmed so they can begin to believe that you will be different. Trust takes time and action. Without both, it cannot grow.