Without planning to, I just completed a personal experiment about the effects of overreacting and worrying about things that never come to pass. A couple of weeks ago, I made a rather harsh statement before a group of people and although true and needful, it was hurtful and probably should not have been said. Immediately, I regretted my decision to speak up.
To relieve the pressure I had imposed on myself, I began a blog post using the following quote…
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
The post was never completed, but my actions continued to eat away at me for the following week. Each time I faced the people who heard my speech, all I wanted to do was hide. I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, secretly despising me for the accusations I had made. It was awful. I wanted to erase the past, but couldn’t.
Because I couldn’t, I decided to make amends in the only way I could find. My attempt to do so felt somewhat promising, but I still believed that my reputation had been ruined for good.
Moving ahead to today, two weeks after my objectionable speech…
I wanted to write a post this morning, but didn’t know which topic to choose. So for inspiration I checked my draft folder and what did I find? This one, about ruined reputations.
To my great relief, I can’t publish it now.
It’s interesting and somewhat comical how things can change so much in just a matter of days. Two weeks ago, I was tempted with the thought of moving (which is something we’ve been considering anyway) just to escape the hatred from others I was convinced that I had brought upon myself. Today, with life mostly back to normal, I realize how silly that thought was. Talk about overreacting.
I’ve learned a few things during this unintentional experiment of mine:
- Most people don’t like to hear the truth, even when it’s necessary for growth and improvement.
- If you’re going to make an important speech it is best to rehearse it first, to ensure that your thoughts are expressed correctly. Not only will this prevent you from offending others unintentionally, it will also help the audience to be more receptive to your message.
- If you’re having second thoughts about sharing an opinion, it would be wise to think again.
- You can’t run away from your problems, especially when the problems reside within you.
- A strong person stays to face the music. Only the weak run.
- If you’re facing a dilemma, whether self-imposed or brought on by others, take a deep breath, relax and give it time. It will likely fix itself.
- While we’re beating ourselves up and living in a cloud of regret and self-condemnation, everyone else has long forgotten and moved on.
Although our reputation can be ruined in a matter of five minutes and we should be very careful to preserve it, in most cases it will remain intact. This is especially true if we realize our error and make a sincere effort to rectify it.
We all mess up, but what’s done is done. There’s no need in beating ourselves up for what we can’t change. All we can do is try our best to make things right, and then wait.
One question I normally ask myself when problems arise is, “Will this matter five years from now?” Most often, the answer is no. So, why stress about it? Do your best to fix it, let it go and allow time to do the rest.
Yeah! I can totally relate to that. Whatever mistake we make is meant to add to our experiences and prevent future mistakes.
Exactly! It may not feel good, but sometimes it’s needful and if we allow it to it will help us to become better.
Thank you so much for your post. Just last night at a board meeting that I attended I gave an opinion that was, to say the least, not well received. At all. I left the meeting feeling rejected, sad,and dismayed. My mind has been consumed all day with the outcome of my comments. Your post helped tremendously. And you are so right! People have so much else to think about other than my debacle. I thought about quitting this particular organization, but again, you are right. I will face the music! And, the best part, deep down I know I was right in my opinion and STILL very glad I expressed it. So, bottom line – time to move on, face this music – and dance. Why not?
I am so glad that this helped you. It’s hard to deal with the backlash of sharing our concerns and opinions – the backlash from others and from ourselves. But sometimes we must speak up regardless of how it will be received. Then realize that we’re much harder on ourselves than others are and learn to let things go and not beat ourselves up for it. Like you, what I said needed to be said and I don’t regret sharing my concerns, only regret how it was received. But to my surprise, later I found out that some people were actually thankful I had spoken up because they felt the same way, but were just too timid to share. So you never know, there may be a lot more people on your side that you’re unaware of.
Excellent post and very succinctly summarized.
Thank you, Dahlia.
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I think people know who you really are and speaking your mind one time would not ruin your reputation. I makes sense it might be awkward but as you said time moves a forward. I know what you mean about saying things before you have written them out or rehearsed, things can go haywire. A learning experience!
Haywire – they sure can! What begins as logic can quickly turn emotional and then nothing comes out right. You’re right though, I would hope that people know we well enough to know that I mean no harm by what I say. I can’t think of a single time in my life that I’ve gone out my way to intentionally hurt someone. Yes, it was certainly an awkward time, but also a great learning experience.
This is a very helpful post and indeed gives the lessons we all need to learn. Next time for each one of us is the best time using these lessons learned.
Yes, I agree. Glad you enjoyed the post.