DEAR HARRIETTE: I had some time to myself this summer and was able to be quiet and assess my life. It was a great experience, but during my contemplation, I remembered some things that I did in my past that are disturbing. I’m talking about choices that I made that were rude or mean or short-sighted. In retrospect, I can’t believe how selfish I was while trying to build my career. There have been a few occasions when the way I reacted to people I care about just didn’t matter in the moment. I am ashamed about some of these moments, and I wonder what I should do. I know that most people have done bad things, but should I do something about it? Should I reach out to the people I think I was rude to and apologize for my behavior? -- Making Amends, Dallas
DEAR MAKING AMENDS: Self-reflection is an excellent component to life because it enables you to notice what you have done well and where you can improve. This includes assessing when it’s wise to own up to your mistakes and apologize for your behavior. In many instances, this is a good idea. If you did something awful to someone, chances are that person remembers. Your call or note can go a long way in extending the proverbial olive branch. Just make sure that you are not more likely to stir up negative feelings at a bad time for that person.
Do not reach out to someone in hopes of absolution. That is putting responsibility back on the victim. Instead, be mindful when you reach out to someone you’ve hurt. Ask if it’s OK for you two to talk. Confess your bad behavior, and sincerely apologize. Be prepared to hear their rendition and revisited hurt feelings. In other cases, offer it up in prayer and ask the universe for forgiveness.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been worried about my life a lot lately, really wondering if I wouldn’t be better off dead. I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out: I lost my job. I have a healthy life insurance policy. If I die, my family would have the money I put in the policy to take care of themselves. Does that seem awful? I’m trying to be practical here. I’m not planning to do anything yet; I'm just thinking. -- Suicidal, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SUICIDAL: It is smart that you got life insurance as a way of safeguarding your family in case of an accident. Do know that your insurance policy would be void if, for any reason, you take your own life. This important to know, given your state of mind.
More importantly, your life is worth living! It’s just tough right now. Get help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at any time to talk to a professional about how you are feeling at 1-800-273-8255. Beyond that, see your doctor for mental-health support. Reach out to friends and acquaintances for job support. Times are tough now, but things can change. Hold on to that belief.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)