For as long as there has been alcohol, there’s been a morning after. Overconsumption of alcohol may leave you with a fuzzy head, but your hangover is likely not your only regret. Because alcohol interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters, people who are drunk often feel and act less inhibited. And drunken antics often result in a reckoning with friends and family. Owning up to bad behavior isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
The Direct Approach
Everyone messes up. Even stone-cold sober people can say stupid things. The best way to address something you said while you were drunk is to first acknowledge it. Find out exactly what you said and just who heard it. You may need to apologize to a single friend or a whole room full of angry relatives. Once you’ve owned up to your idiotic behavior, say you’re sorry. Psychologist Tamar Chansky suggests tailoring the apology to the single act. Don’t turn your mea culpa for one insensitive comment into an apology for everything you’ve ever done that might have offended.
While you can’t really take back what you've said, you can try to make up for bad behavior. Even words spoken by a drunk might resonate with others who heard the exchange. If you presented an unflattering portrait of your significant other in front of her colleagues, you owe her big time. Even if she’s willing to forgive, you may need to do some workplace repair. You can acknowledge your bad behavior directly to her co-workers or jump on an opportunity to see them again where you can soberly undo some of the damage you may have done.
In a Note
Apology notes begging forgiveness have the added benefit of being permanent reminders to you and your victim. After stating the obvious-- that you’re sorry for your drunken outburst --you can also tell your friend/lover/other how lucky you are to him in your life. Even if your written communication skills are subpar, the thought and effort you put into a written proclamation of remorse and respect can go a long way to getting that nod of forgiveness you’re seeking.
We don’t just say stupid things anymore when we’re drunk. We also leave drunken messages on voicemail, send out emails, post asinine status updates and drunken text at the oddest hours of the morning. If what you stupidly said was done through social media, it’s not a bad idea to ask forgiveness on the same platform. And if you’ve posted something the whole world can see, you’ve got to pull down and replace it with some positive words that might salve the wounds you’ve left.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol and Neurotransmitter Interactions
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Alcohol Use and Related Problems Among College Students and Their Noncollege Peers:
- Psych Central: Making Stupid Mistakes When Drunk Here's How
- Psychology Today: How to Apologize
Linda Emma is a long-standing writer and editor. She is also a digital marketing professional and published author with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as a content manager and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.
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