How do you get your self respect back after being fired for dishonesty?
February 16, 2010 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you get your self respect back after being fired for dishonesty?

I am 25, I started this job right out of college and have been here since I was 21. It is a large social service organization that advocates for imprisoned women. (I am also female, married).

We are only allowed to have contact with the prisoners in highly structured ways. My first year working here, I flouted that rule once (not to do anything bad, it was out of laziness and wanting to take a shortcut). I made it worse by lying about it in a signed statement.

To make a long story short it was discovered after several years. It was taken VERY seriously and there was an investigation of me.

I was certain I was going to lose my job and distraught, so I decided to air another issue. It was that I had omitted information when I had applied to the job. We were supposed to disclose any arrests even if the records were sealed. I had been arrested once for pot possession as a 14 year old. Everything relating to that ended up being dismissed. So I didn't say anything about even though I knew I was supposed to.

Since I was already being investigated and that was weighing on my conscience, I decided to just make them aware of it and get everything done with at once.

Obviously, I was fired. But that wasn't the really bad part. It was the investigation and meeting at which I was fired. They were among the most humiliating things I've ever experienced.

It was a series of meetings with my boss and increasingly higher level people in the organization, all emphasizing that they all thought I was an immoral, cheating, lying person who was essentially scum. They kept repeating many of the same points over and over for emphasis even though I kept agreeing with them and didn't argue, and didn't try to excuse myself at all because I knew what I did was wrong.

I'm not looking for anyone to minimize what I did because I know it was dishonest and wrong and it's true that it does tell you things about me.

I'm asking how I can go from the point I am now to feeling self respect again, to stop feeling like I'm immoral pond scum again. What things do I do to get to that? I don't expect this to happen overnight, I expect it to take years.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're going to have to let some time pass before you can reflect on it by thinking that you were young. When you start your new job, you'll probably be very honest and be a different and more mature employee. Think about the things you'll do differently. Honestly, them being harsh on you for something you did at 14 is silly and a technicality they used to fire you. It's likely they wouldn't have found out about your prior arrest (assuming they do background checks upon hiring).

Breathe easy and try not to obsess over this. Just take it all day by day and take care of yourself.
posted by anniecat at 5:48 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's just my oppinion, but I think self respect comes in when you decide you've learned from your mistake , and that you'll never do X, Y, Z again.
posted by marimeko at 5:55 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

Part of being young is making mistakes and having errors in judgment. The best you can do is move forward having learned from the experience. The truth is - the people who are "immoral, cheating and scum" tend to be the ones who have no conscience and who don't stop and reflect on their actions. They continue to make the same choices and screw people over. You asking this question is showing that you're nothing like what they painted you to be. Get around a good group of people who love and support you and know you're much better than a few bad choices you made.
posted by icy at 5:59 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

You've already done step one: you've owned your mistake and paid for it. The other step is to simply live in such a way as to have learned from it.

I'm not going to tell you not to beat yourself up about it, because you will anyway. You'll do it less often as time goes on, but you'll mentally (and sometimes physically) wince when you think about it.

You can make the process of getting your self respect back go faster, though. Define your ideal self, and make as much effort as possible to be that ideal every day. By 'define,' I mean literally write down the qualities of the person you want to be and be seen as, and then work (hard) at becoming that person.

It's not easy, and sometimes it's not fun, either. It is intensely rewarding, though, and you may find that your slip into dishonesty was the best thing you ever did, because it caused you to want to be a better person.

Maybe. It's up to you.
posted by Pragmatica at 6:01 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]

Advocates for imprisoned women, and this is how they treat you? You were only able to free yourself from your past mistakes after having admitted them. They took that information and instead of just coming to a final decision, berated you [what seems] fairly consistently before your departure.

While I'd definitely learn something from this, I think I'd also take it with a grain of salt. Take a deep breath, rely on some friends and family to lift your spirits and find a new job with a more supportive environment.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:04 PM on February 16, 2010 [13 favorites]

while it very well take years for you to get over these feelings, do not let this process usurp your life. that will only make things worse. cutting corners is something we're all guilty of, and you are admirable for fessing up once approached, and for acknowledging that you are in the wrong - this is an important step and should be commended, as many people stay in denial for as long as possible.

try to isolate this shame, if possible, in order to move forward with the life you'd like to lead - one that is honest, and helpful. you are normal and a good person for wanting to rectify this. the best thing you can do is go forward with your head held high knowing you want to never be dishonest in the workplace again, and that you have not only learned, but paid for, your mistakes.
posted by citystalk at 6:09 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, please be nice to yourself, above all else! Trite as it may sound, time is going to be your BEST FRIEND. What seems completely shattering right now will, in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year, seem like nothing but a blip. They were hard on you in a way that was mean & unnecessary. I'd channel some energy into thinking about how they were jerks! And then take a bath with a glass of wine. You'll beat yourself up no matter what, because it's still fresh, but that will (it WILL) slowly go away. Just be gentle with yourself. You know you did wrong. You know you won't again. You'll have so many more chances to be awesome! :)
posted by crawfo at 6:09 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

I doubt this will make you feel any better, but if I had been treated as badly as you were treated, the experience would have made me laugh my ass off at what assholes those people are. Seriously, it would have become a big joke to me. By overreacting, they made themselves the bad guys.
posted by jayder at 6:14 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

You don't have to let one event define you. This is just something that happened to you. You did some stuff wrong, but as you said yourself, you weren't trying to do anything bad. That's not immoral, it's just improper. Please don't beat yourself up too badly; you've already paid the price for this one.
posted by leafeater at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2010

I would suggest that you go for some short-term counseling. It doesn't have to be a lifetime project, three months would likely be all you would need to get a different perspective.
posted by micawber at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2010

Good. You made a mistake. Or two. That's what we do when we're young and making our way in the world.

I understand they needed to fire you. I can explain the nasty way they did it in two ways:

1. They really liked you personally, and deep down, they're super angry you "duped" them.

2. They are confusing you and your relatively minor behavior with the women your organization services.

Look. I know you are god awful humiliated. Don't Be.

99.9% of folks in your shoes would not have admitted to the pot thing since they probably would never have discovered it. Congratulations - you've proven you have learned your lesson by creating the inevitable consequences with your admission.

Done. You win. They lose for treating you like dirt.

If I see this correctly, maybe you are meant to move on to some other career? There is a deeper reason why you, your colleagues and superiors service(d) that particular population, hence their over-zealous treatment of you as your time amongst them came to a close.

I'd say your lessons from this arena are over. Hold your head high and pursue other work in an unrelated field.

You'll always make mistakes - both at work and in your private life. Despite the good or bad opinion of others, it's how you learn from your mistakes that defines your character and values.

In other words, feel free to ignore anything that was said to you with vitriol. Learn from your mistakes here for your own well-being. Do better next time.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
posted by jbenben at 6:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]

it does tell you things about me.

It tells me that you made a dumb mistake, made another dumb mistake (lying about the first thing) and faced the consequences.

People do dumb things in their 20s. Embarrassing, dumb things. I once got caught in a very stupid lie and was completely mortified, feeling similar to what you describe. I didn't know how I'd ever stop feeling so bad about having been so stupid. And then, with time, it became less awful. What helped me was that I made a conscious decision to put my embarrassed energy toward making the better choice the next time: I told myself that it didn't do anyone any good for me to feel so awful in a static way, instead I had to find a way to learn from my mistake, act like an adult, and make the right choice the next time. Because there will be a next time. It really helped me to feel like I was doing something--making better plans and better choices. It helped me to feel more in control of my future actions, whereas I felt I'd spiraled out of control in my past dumb mistake.

You made a mistake and faced the consequences. Your bosses did the wrong thing by harping on this as if it showed a deep character flaw. You made a mistake that deserved a certain penalty (firing, according to your employer's policies); you did not do anything to deserve to have your confidence in your ability to conduct moral, adult decision-making so badly shaken by people in authority over you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:30 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

You should not punish yourself over a bad decision you made 11 years ago. For that matter, your company should not punish you for a bad decision you made 11 years ago. You likely learned from that experience and stayed away from trouble. Granted, you did disobey a rule about prisoner contact, but my takeaway from all of this is:

4 years of advocacy and social service far exceeds a bad decision at work

You're on the right path. Keep your head up and keep up the good work.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 6:36 PM on February 16, 2010

I'd also like to point out...

Your behavior, in the end, was especially professional in what was supposed to be a professional environment.

Their behavior was exceedingly unprofessional and smacks of a lynch-mob mentality.


I know it's hard because you must have admired these folks a lot - you were 21yrs old when you started with them! I bet it hurts.

I agree with the advice above, go find a more professional work environment. You've earned it.
posted by jbenben at 6:36 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Move forward having learned your lesson, and be grateful you did so early in your career: you'll never be Bernie Madoff.
posted by sallybrown at 6:41 PM on February 16, 2010

Trust me in this: you will feel much, much better when you get into a new job or even field, and start fresh. Your new track record can be as squeaky clean as you allow it to be, and that will feel GREAT.
posted by Pomo at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2010

This happened to me six years ago this month. I was then hospitalized. It was dreadful. Horrid.

Treat yourself well, eat well, exercise, volunteer, read biographies of people who inspire you. I threw myself into genealogy, knowing that my ancestors had had it a lot rougher than me, and through no fault of their own. Then I went to grad school.

I'm still in the same city. The organization is one that I regularly praise here on Meta, and it employs at least one MeFite who has interacted with me here. I attend conferences at their site.

It is really, really hard, but you can do it. MeMail me if you like.
posted by jgirl at 6:55 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

You learned a valuable lesson - honesty is not the best policy if the records are sealed. They were sealed to protect you. That this bunch of supposed humans berated you for it teaches you that even the best intentions are subject to pettiness.

Time will be your friend. Look at it this way - at least you're sentient enough to realize what's going on and reflect on what got you into hot water, and what got you dumped into the fire.
posted by notsnot at 6:55 PM on February 16, 2010

Don't let them determine your worth. You do that. You're not pond scum. Go scam some seniors out of their retirement - then you can be pond scum. You took a couple of shortcuts and you've learned from it. People make mistakes and learn and move on. You're not branded for life. Fresh start now.

These people sound really over the top too, assuming you're not exaggerating out of hurt or retroactively projecting. If you're going to fire me, just fire me. I broke the rules, you're enforcing them, understood. But spare me the sermon. I can't believe they really expected you to just sit there and soak all of that up knowing they were going to fire you. That's pretty ridiculous.

It sucks that this happened, but you can go ahead and start feeling good about yourself right now. A good person who made some small mistakes like the rest of us. The only difference between you and most people is that most people don't get caught. They live with their little transgressions and maybe use them as secret lessons or don'. Either way, they're not pond scum either.
posted by Askr at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who did a law internship on death penalty cases for the Southern Poverty Law Center in the 1980s. She has many hair-raising stories, and many humorous ones. In the latter category were the three rules they gave advocates for death-row inmates. I only remember one of them: no sex with the clients.

Keep in mind that meetings with the clients (the death-row inmates) were always in the prisons, in small confined meeting rooms. More often than not the clients were shackled.

They had the now sex rule because they had to. Even so, it was apparently frequently broken. It's just hard to refuse someone their dying wish.

I wouldn't feel so bad. Go out and get another job. Do some good in the world. Learn from your mistakes. Don't let the bastards get you down. And whenever possible, don't have sex with the clients.
posted by alms at 7:25 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry you're going through this. You made a mistake, you know that you made a mistake, and you feel awful about it. You sound like a person who really cares about doing the right thing; you wouldn't feel so bad if that weren't the case.

"To either hide from guilt or let it consume you is a gamesmanlike escape route from the truth-- and he who cannot bite the bullet and use the guilt for its intended purpose, as a searing fire to cauterize the wound, as a goad to better resistance next time, is doomed." -- Adm. James Stockdale.

The guilt isn't the point. What you do with the guilt is.

And it won't always feel this bad.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:35 PM on February 16, 2010

I know the classic advice (which has always struck me as unhelpful) is that everyone makes mistakes. The reason that people say this is because they remember something that they absolutely regret doing, and understand that you are not solely defined by the bad things that you've done. So: everyone makes mistakes.

Your guilt and regret at what you did are useful things, not only to motivate you to develop the habit of telling the truth and owning up immediately when you make mistakes, but also to remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of this kind of investigation/ browbeating. So when a young person gets investigated in your office, you. future boss or coworker, remember what it was like to do something that you regretted deeply, and use that memory to shape a response that's hopefully more humane than what you experienced.

I don't agree (no offense guys) that you should try to reconcile yourself to with the past behavior or excuse it in any way, or that the way that you were treated in this case means that you should forget about what you did that was wrong. I do think that it's all over now, and all that matters is what you make of yourself in the future.

And by the way, you wouldn't probably care this much if integrity wasn't important to you.
posted by _cave at 8:07 PM on February 16, 2010

For that matter, your company should not punish you for a bad decision you made 11 years ago.

Let's not muddy the water - the punishment is not over what happened 14 years ago, it's over the lack of required disclosure 4 years ago.

There's lots of good information up above, including jbenben's observations about their over-the-top behavior. And have no illusions - it was excessive. Berating and abusing someone once you've made the decision to fire them is simply childish and mean.

Their reactions aren't so much what's important; the important thing is taking the right lesson from this. That's two incidences where you tried to avoid living with the repercussions of your actions. Perhaps you feel, as I do, that most drug laws are moronic. It's tempting to latch onto that and ignore the fact that you still have to accept the consequences of breaking those laws, both immediately and in long-term ways.

Your subsequent offense might have been minor and innocent but you tried to avoid living with the repercussions of that too by denying it.

In the end, it caught up with you and you paid for your avoidance by suffering a much higher price than you probably would have if you'd just owned up at the time. Internalizing that is the way to get past this - not just so you learn something from this experience, but so you accept that you have paid the price for your actions.

Everyone makes mistakes. Yours were primarily harmless ones; the person most hurt by them was you. Accept it and acknowledge the fact that you not only have paid for that mistake but demonstrated some personal growth by owning up. When you feel that shame tell yourself that you were just paying an old debt and it's done - you're a better person for it. Don't let wallowing in that shame keep you from demonstrating that.
posted by phearlez at 8:09 PM on February 16, 2010

It was a series of meetings with my boss and increasingly higher level people in the organization, all emphasizing that they all thought I was an immoral, cheating, lying person who was essentially scum.

Seriously, this is ridiculous, and you need to understand that it's symptomatic of the environment you worked in. If you had been working for, say, a magazine publisher, the people firing you would have said "Sorry, but it doesn't seem to be working out. We wish you the best of luck."

In fact, it's great that you have the personal integrity to sit there and take that abuse, but a lot of people wouldn't have. And I can't help but wonder if that was actually the point... maybe they were hoping that you would quit so that they didn't have to fire you.

It really doesn't sound like you did anything terrible. You took a shortcut at work, and you smoked pot when you were 14. I've worked for people who probably wouldn't hire you after reading this thread, because you're too damn honest.

How to get past it:

- Find a job in a completely different environment.
- Accept that human behavior does not run according to black and white rules, and people who think it should are controlling assholes who work in prisons.
posted by bingo at 8:27 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

@_cave - who said she was excused??

@phearlez - thanks for the mention, but I think you got it wrong. Words like "punishment" are inappropriate to use in professional/business scenarios. OP is not a child in your household.

She, with full awareness, invited the consequence of getting fired by her employer by coming clean. Done and done well. I think OP understands dishonesty isn't the best policy.

Additionally, I agree with notsnot - those records were sealed to protect the OP. No disclosure required. Her employer can ask, and not telling may be an ethical or policy violation - but the law on this is on her side there.

The OP's admitting to her OP's part and accepting the consequences with dignity doesn't mean excusing her former abusive unprofessional bosses for fucking with her psyche on her way out the door. No way.

They have every right to terminate the professional relationship with the OP. They had no right to traumatize her to the point of crippling her self-esteem and undermining her far into the future.

I point you to the OP's statement: "I'm asking how I can go from the point I am now to feeling self respect again, to stop feeling like I'm immoral pond scum again. What things do I do to get to that? I don't expect this to happen overnight, I expect it to take years."


OP - don't let this set you back for years or put you in the hospital like jgirl.

The reality of what you did, and the appropriate way you handled the situation in the end - this just doesn't rise to the level of drama inflicted on you.

Two. Different. Issues.

posted by jbenben at 8:36 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Guilt is signal that you violated your own personal values. Figure out what the value(s) fell short in this mess. Honesty? Integrity? Then work on strengthening that value in yourself. If you can find a library copy of Character Strengths and Virtues, it includes suggestions for how to cultivate each of their 24 virtues. Another guide to cultivating your "soul traits" is Everyday Holiness. It is based on a Jewish approach to living called Mussar but it has a lot of practical advice for strengthen certain aspects of your character. As you do this work, you will not only become a better person (something each and every one of us could use) but you will also be conscious of how far you have come since you made those poor decisions.

Second, when you are in the situation like your review/firing, it is very hard to figure out how much is you and how much is them. I had a very critical supervisor at a first job in a new field - it took three years for me to get comfortable with my understanding of what happened. (I was in therapy during those years, although primarily for other reasons. It did help a lot to get a reality check from my therapist. If you are having trouble shaking this, a short course of therapy might help you get perspective on what happened so you can move forward.)
posted by metahawk at 8:45 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

They handled it very unprofessionally. Unless there was a pathology of lying and covering up, a formal written reprimand, a note on your next review and a six month probation sounds about right. Anything less is amateur-hour.

A dismissed juvenile case shouldn't even enter the discussion, any discussion, and the investigator and bigwigs should know that, especially considering the nature of the service they provide. So who's being dishonest now?

You screwed up, you acknowledged your screw up, you know not to screw up that way again, and you haven't screwed up that way again. Ain't nothing to get over, except the lingering stench of self-important blowhards who like abusing their employees.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Errr, anything =more= I meant.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:09 PM on February 16, 2010

In the whole scheme of things, what you did (take a shortcut, lie on an application) are pretty common transgressions. Pedestrian even. Taking dumb chances is human nature. You got caught, learned some lessons and have survived to fight another day. I agree with the posters who say this will pass in time.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:16 PM on February 16, 2010

Realize that prisons have very strict rules when compared to other places of employment. (I know you weren't actually employed there, but you were interacting with prisoners.) My aunt was a teacher at a prison and tried to let an inmate slide when he didn't have his "homework" done on time, and she was fired for it. She was trying to be nice and cut the guy a break and not report that he hadn't kept to the terms of his classes.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:40 PM on February 16, 2010

A lot of good comments here. I'll just add that one thing that can help you feel better about yourself and gain your confidence back is to do something that requires honesty and be HONEST while doing it. I can't think of any examples off-hand, but I'm sure you can think of something.

You need to prove to yourself that you have matured to the point of being able to be honest. Now, that is not to say that white lies should never be made...sometimes you have to bend the rules with things. But I think you've learned a good lesson in covering your ass in the professional world which will be a crucial lesson to learn for the future. You've also learned how things can come back to haunt you which should make you much better at making sure you aren't putting things in writing unless you absolutely need to, etc.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:44 PM on February 16, 2010

The first thing is that you did not do terrible things. You did things it is reasonable to be fired over. You didn't harm anyone. You didn't act out of any evil or horribly selfish motive. You made a couple of bad judgment calls about essentially bureaucratic requirements in a particularly unforgiving context for such lapses. I know you say you're not asking for this but I'm honestly not saying this to be nice, I'm saying this because the way you're characterizing these lapses is way beyond reasonable and you need some perspective on that.

Second I think it is very likely that your interpretation of what you went through with the final interviews is pretty skewed. I strongly suspect these meetings were entirely about them covering their asses by establishing and reiterating up their organizational food chain that it all came down to you and didn't have anything to do with anything they did wrong, for the purpose of eliminating any chance of you creating problems over your firing, and absolving them of any responsibility on the remote chance there was some fallout over the rule you broke with respect to prisoner contact.

If anyone genuinely took that opportunity to lay some kind of moral trip on you for making a couple of bad decisions when you were 21 or 22, well, they were being self-righteous and unprofessional assholes. There is absolutely not place or justification for that in this context. But I strongly, strongly suspect you are projecting a lot if not most of that aspect on this. You are clearly very, very down on yourself right now.

Focus on yourself and now, consciously and firmly turn your mind to other subjects every time you start to dwell on these experiences and what was said to you. You have already learned your lesson, you ultimately did the correct things of fully disclosing the mistakes you made and accepting your responsibility. This does not need to take years. It would be a shame if you allowed these mistakes, which you have acknowledged and taken responsibility and suffered a reasonable but significant consequence for, to dominate and diminish your life in that way.
posted by nanojath at 11:20 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

4 letter word for employer.

posted by pianomover at 11:25 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to hear what they put you through. Their response certainly didn't seem proportional to the transgressions you made, so unless you've omitted something, I'm assuming that these people are drama queens who just, well, love a good drama when given the opportunity to stage one.

I have to say that it sounds like you handled it badly, because you are young and possibly still a bit naive. Admitting guilt in a situation like this - and even copping to more transgressions - is like inviting a big pile on. You turned yourself into a scapegoat and an example. You are now the poster girl in the organization of "things that happen to you if you break our rules". I think part of the reason why the bigwigs "kept repeating the same points for emphasis" was also that they expected some kind of defense. When you didn't fight back, they just kept going.

In situations like this, you should defend yourself. You should choose a line and stick to it. In this situation, you could have decided: "I will give them 'carelesness' but not 'immorality'." And then you keep hammering on the same key during the entire procedure.

"On the day of the events, I was in a hurry and I might have skipped some of the procedure. I was still young and I didn't yet understand how important the procedure was, but I have since learned. I have never done it since. My track record of the last 4 years is impeccable. I will not let you describe me as a dishonest person."

I think that part of why you feel bad is that you let it happen and didn't fight back. It's important to stand up for yourself and your integrity. You shouldn't allow yourself to be taken to the altar for ritual slaughter (because that's what they did, you know).

(And for the love of god, if you want to confess sins from your childhood, go to a priest or a psychiatrist.)
posted by NekulturnY at 1:18 AM on February 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

I am a criminal lawyer and I prosecute a lot of dishonesty offences. I can tell you that as far as the courts are concerned, cooperation with investigators and acknowledgement of wrongdoing are taken as good evidence of remorse. Now, I'm not saying your situation is anywhere near as serious as that, but there are some similarities. You owned up to the earlier dishonesty, which you didn't have to do, and you acknowledged your wrongdoing and didn't make excuses. You are remorseful and don't want to put yourself in that situation again.

Sounds like you're well on the way to putting it behind you.
posted by robcorr at 3:51 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I'm thrown off-balance by some event, I sometimes find it helpful to examine why reality diverged so shockingly from my expectations.

It is a large social service organization that advocates for imprisoned women...

...It was a series of meetings with my boss and increasingly higher level people in the organization, all emphasizing that they all thought I was an immoral, cheating, lying person who was essentially scum.

It occurs to me that the over-the-top condemnation may have been done out of fear or perceived political necessity. I'm no expert here, but I would think that such an organization's funding and ability to operate could be compromised if it were seen to be bending rules or employing people of less than sterling character. Even though your transgressions weren't publicly known, there might've been some anxiety about what could happen if they were. I'm guessing that your organization might've felt it was imperative to not only shove you out, but to shove you way, way out. In other words, there might've been some theater involved here.

When money is tight, as it is now everywhere, people can become much more willing to throw each other under the proverbial bus in defense of their own positions. They are also more likely to frame issues in extreme, moralistic terms in order to salve their own consciences about the decisions they feel forced to make.

The organization's behavior is still unfortunate, in such a context, but at least it makes more sense.
posted by jon1270 at 5:45 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

A friend has a saying, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." Mantras like that can be useful in such situations. "One day at a time" is a cliche because it's true for all of us. Tomorrow is a Brand New Day. You get to decide who you are going to be. Because you've done "bad" things does not make you a "bad person." You lied. Are you a liar? You may have acted like one yesterday, but you don't have to do so today.

Also it's my personal feeling that anything you do while under 25 doesn't "count," as long as it doesn't cause permanent harm or have long-term consequences (like having a child). Age will give you perspective on this, as will the near-universality of people who have screwed up due to youthful indiscretion. Nothing is permanent.
posted by desjardins at 6:59 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you have to remember that it took courage to own up to your mistakes and sit and listen to these people with respect. A lot of people have problems taking criticism or negative feedback but it is essential in improving yourself. Whether you are improving your skills on the job or breaking the rules. Lesser people would have walked out of disappeared out of embarrassment - you didn't. Good for you.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:37 AM on February 17, 2010

In response to above jbenben:

Well, the excuses thing was not directed at the OP--I was trying to disagree (politely) with the idea in some responses her feelings of guilt are somehow not valid/ justifiable, and don't need to be wrestled with like any other negative emotion. I think phearlez was on the same thing. The point wasn't that she should wallow in guilt or that I think she's a terrible person, but that guilt has its place and shouldn't be trivialized, pushed aside, or blamed on other people. Instead, I'd argue that guilt should be faced, acknowledged in its context, and used for growth. Others may differ. That's okay.

Again, I'm NOT saying that the OP is trivializing the situation or trying to blame other people. But saying "you are okay" does not = I feel okay about myself. I am trying to say that she can take constructive steps to grow from this incident. For me, this idea has been helpful when I've screwed up in the past and been called out for it.

Even though the situation was handled horribly by the bosses, ultimately, they are beside the point. I agree that they made the situation out to be far worse than it was, and increased guilt to levels out of proportion with what actually happened. But I read the question to be about her regaining her self respect, and that has nothing to do with objecting to the terrible way that her bosses dealt with this situation and everything to do with (in my view):

1) acknowledging that something wrong is done (mission accomplished, OP) and forgiving herself for the mistake (sounds like that hasn't happened yet).

2) using this incident as a catalyst for useful introspection and self development.

Sorry if that wasn't clear from the original post. I think we're on the same page-ish (perhaps).
posted by _cave at 9:46 AM on February 17, 2010

« Older passive or idiot-proof posture improvement?   |   gossip at work Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.