Small mistake or burnt bridge - where is the dividing line?
April 14, 2011 9:45 PM Subscribe
After growing up in a VERY authoritarian family environment, I lack a sense of proportion when it comes to when I've really
screwed up bad. I'm in therapy but would like some further advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up with authoritarian parents for whom every mistake was a bridge-burner. I was thoroughly shamed for doing things like accidentally spilling milk (!). If I broke a possession, I wouldn't get a replacement in order to "teach me a lesson." Bad grades? I was watched like a hawk forever even after improving the grade later. You get the picture. I was never allowed to make a mistake and learn from it, offend people and make things up, and so on.
Life and therapy have helped me there. I feel now I can make mistakes and be forgiven. However, what I still lack is a sense of proportion. I have a hard time distinguishing where "petty mistakes that everyone makes" ends and "whoa. You made a big, huge mistake and burnt a bridge here" begins.
Especially job-wise, I now am unsure when I've done something that is a real bridge-burner. Something that can't be made up for, and that will kill any chances of getting a good reference.
I don't embezzle from the company or sleep with my boss - big things like that which are clearly immoral and/or illegal. And as I said before, I no longer live in fear that my little screw-ups will mean "No good reference for YOU!" And I know there are prickly people out there, as well as ones who want an excuse to be rid of an employee and will trump up any reason to push them out the door.
In relationships, the same applies - I know there are touchy, easily offended people and also those who seize upon a mistake to dump you, which they were intending to do anyway.
Long story short, I feel like I lack that sense of proportion and of a clear boundary where "little mistakes that everyone makes" ends and "you really fucked up this time" begins.
Do I need yet more therapy, perhaps of a different kind? Are there books that I can read about this?