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how do you gain back respect when you've made an asshole of yourself in the past? Answered

I have made some pretty bad decisions in the past and am desperately looking to clean my act up. I've made decision in the past that are holding me back from getting to where I need to go... I've ignored common sense and now it's costing me.... I am relatively young and looking to just start out a career but am finding it quite impossible due to my failure to seize past opportunities... I fell like I've missed the boat so to speak and I fear that this realization has come to me on the last minute and I'm caught feverishly looking for answers anybody have any advise for me???

6 Replies

MolecularMaestroBest Answer (author)2009-08-28

1) Give yourself a pat on the back for owning up to having been an a$$hole. -Believe it or not, there aren't many folks out that can do that, much less to a large audience.

2) To get respect back, with either yourself or someone else, requires first being specifically honest about everything in the situation. - Don't just apologize to apologize. What did you specifically do wrong? (i.e. miss a deadline, fail to show up, etc.) What specifically happened to the others involved as a result of your actions? Why is what you have done specifically bothering you now? Based on the situation, what was the specific end and/or purpose you both were looking to achieve that eventually changed or shifted? Bottomline, making things specific brings reality back to an all-too-often emotionally chaotic scenario created in your mind. Additionally, this will help you to specifically remember what it is you did in order to watch out for it again in the future. For instance, you can't tell someone I'll never miss another deadline. In this case, you didn't literally miss the deadline, you probably did not a) leave yourself a reminder of the deadline on your laptop, cell phone, etc., or b) think out, write down, and prioritize your actions to get it done on time, etc.

3) If you owe someone an apology, personalize it to the individual and commit to it fully. - Everybody, young and old, male or female, etc knows when an apology is half assed or half hearted. Especially women, its like a sixth sense for them. Plus, if you don't, it leaves room for regret, which will fester. When its fully committed to, both parties will have a great sense of relief.

4) What's the root cause?
- This one can take a little or a long time. Some believe, most people's actions are rooted in their needs. A need for security (i.e. actions people might do that are generally viewed as bad, but allow a person to keep their job). A need for attention (i.e. being excessively or annoyingly loud) or acknowledgement (i.e. claiming someone's idea as their own). Figure yours out and determine yourself to find out how to satisfy that need in a healthier and more realistic way. For a need like financial security, put away 6 months of income or find ways to generate additional income (crafts, tutoring, blogs, etc.) For attention or acknowledgement, stick to stuff your already good at or put yourself around others who enjoy what you enjoy as much as you do and are always interested in getting better at it. Hints: Clearly you enjoy DIY - make some instructables for stuff you excel at. What are those things? Think about things you've done that people comment on with "wow, that's pretty sweet", "man, that's cool, how did you do that?" Basically, find times or things you done that put people in a temporary state of aw.

A more common reason for not seizing past opportunites? A fear of failure. A realistic, yet ridiculous fear nonetheless. Check out John C. Maxwell's book, Failing Forward, for a realistic analysis and approach to dealing with a fear of failure. Worth every penny.

5) Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, and Get Going. Re-invent yourself. It'll be tough, but it'll be worth it.

Legendary motivational speaker and salesman, Zig Ziglar once said, "Its not a shame to get down, its a shame to stay there." Hit up some good reads you've been needing to catch up on. Put it all in perspective. I recommend Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, it'll help you get some serious perspective. Remember, the state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."- Machiavelli

Good Luck

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Gorfram (author)2009-08-30

All sorts of great answers here already. I'll especially second Frollard's remark about education - it's one thing that you can never lose or have taken away from you.

By me, the thing about someone who's lost my respect is that he's probably lied, or at least failed to keep promises, in the past; and so what he *says* is no longer worth much at all to me. It's what he does; and what he does over and over again, month after month or even year after year; that carries worth and meaning.

For example, if you lost your last job because you screwed around at work and generally took advantage, now you need to make your self the most perfect model employee you possibly can - be on time, or early, every day; be religious about getting back to work after break and lunch periods; and spend your hours on the clock thinking about how to do your work better and help your employer carry on his business. And especially if you were caught stealing from a former employer, don't take so much as a paper clip from your present employer - maybe even go so far as to check your pockets everyday before you leave to make sure that you don't absent-mindedly take a pen or pencil home with you.

(Not that you have to be an absolutely perfect employee in every way - nobody can live up to that. When you screw up, or even if things just go all wrong and haywire and it's not particularly your fault, make sure you tell your boss what happened, how it happened, how you propose to fix the problem, and what you plan to do to keep it from happening again. (Then once the two of you have agreed on what you need to do, make very sure that you do it.))

And sometimes you won't be treated fairly, and sometimes you'll just plain get shafted. Maybe because of your past mistakes, or maybe because everyone get shafted every once in a while. Times like that you may figure that, if all this trying and striving and toeing the line isn't going to get you anywhere, you might as well go repeat your past mistakes. But if you can get through something like that without giving up or giving in, that's when you'll really start earning back some respect.

It's a damned tough row to hoe. It's a lot of hard work for a very long time, and some people are just never going to cut you a break. But some people will, eventually, and those are the kind of people whose respect is truly worth having.

I hope all that doesn't sound too preachy. Work hard, keep your word, and I wish you the very best of good luck.

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Re-design (author)2009-08-29

Wow! All great answers. It will take time but it's never too late to do better than you did yesterday. Good luck.

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kevinhannan (author)2009-08-29

all of the answers so far - but don't waste any more time in regret as that is time that could be spent being productive - and forgive yourself - don't spend the next 20 years remembering and agonising about it. Remember, we all mess up.

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MolecularMaestro (author)2009-08-28

"When we are no longer able to change a situation-we are challenged to change ourselves." - Viktor Frankl

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frollard (author)2009-08-28

If you've burned bridges, try to rebuild them. Some people are receptive to apologies. Be sincere, and give apologies that include why you did what you did, that you recognize how it made others feel, and what you'll do to remedy the relationship(s). Even if people still turn you away, then you know you've done the best you can to rectify things. You may have made mistakes - but that is the nature of 'us'. I'm not referring to anything biblical here - but the 'forgiveness' folks have it on the right track. Lastly: Mean what you say. If you say you'll improve, improve. Don't give up on yourself or others. Career wise: Get education. It's never too late. If that's not your gig, then pick up a trade. You can always support yourself and/or a family with a 'ticket' in your back pocket. It will take hard work, but hard work pays off.

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