I am not a well organised or responsible adult, and I'm often self-absorbed and careless. Not to the point where I have trouble holding down a job or making friends or suchlike, but enough to ensure that once or twice a year I'll manage to really upset a friend or family member. I forget important occasions, purchase tickets for different events on the same day, say thoughtless and inappropriate things.
I used to do this sort of stuff a lot more, but I've slowly learned to do better by various methods. I can't imagine I will ever be able to do it properly, though: once or twice a year may be as good as it gets. But it's not good enough for the people I care about.
Whenever I manage to screw up, and it's unambiguously my fault, I feel terrible about it. Occasionally there's something practical I can do to rectify the situation, but usually, there isn't. Even when there is, I've still failed at something important, and the fact of that failure still causes upset. I am consumed with guilt and remorse.
I deal with this very badly. I will attempt to talk to the person I've offended but often they're too angry to resolve things and I find it hard to deal with the lack of resolution. I tend to avoid the people in question until they're ready to talk about it, which is awkward if they're in the same house. At the same time, I feel too guilty about the situation to "do" anything positive. I go through the motions: fulfilling practical goals like going to work and household chores but once that's done I sit and do nothing, full of misery. I will cancel or avoid social appointments or anything that might normally be fun.
From the outside, it's obvious this must look ridiculous, like a teenager sulking in their room. It is also self-indulgent, to wallow in my own guilt when what I would like to do - and what I should be doing - is to focus on the feelings of the people that I've hurt.
Even knowing this, I do not know how else I can behave. If they're too angry to talk about their feelings, I cannot focus on them. If there's nothing practical I can do to help the situation, then I can't take immediate action. If I find taking my responsibilities difficult, and I have done as much as I can to change, I cannot invent practical plans to stop the thing from happening again. If I have caused hurt and offence and feel bad, I do not want to fill my time with frivolities.
How, then, can I react in a more mature and constructive fashion?