With Groundhog Day rapidly approaching, 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:
- 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.
The bottom line here is that we all deserve a chance to make up for our indiscretions. No one was born without a few golden opportunities to stick their foot in their mouth. Weather yours by knowing how to make amends when the apple cart topples. And if you need a crash course, take a few hours to watch "Groundhog Day." Surely your do-over needs can't be as bad as goodole' Phil's!
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