If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade blog | No mercy

couple arguing about work

Do you ever find yourself saying something you regret and then spending the next few days suffering?

The other day I said something I regretted. I spent the following days bowed down in shame. I felt ripped apart by a small comment that felt innocuous at the time but as with so many small comments, was taken as an offence and I was shown no mercy.

It touched on something in my childhood as these things often do. I remember being so afraid of saying the wrong thing, being laughed at and not liked any more, after a few such blunders I learnt to keep my mouth shut whenever possible! I am wondering how much we carry these things into adulthood.

In work is it ok to make mistakes? Surely, we all make mistakes now and again, it is unavoidable. But I notice people I work with are often driven by a fear of letting people down or doing the wrong thing.

Of course, some mistakes are not acceptable and we need to take the consequences but generally are we surrounded by a culture of no mercy? And if so what how does it impact us?

There is a question in a personality type questionnaire that asks something like ‘Which do you value more justice or mercy?’ I have looked at that question many times not really understanding it, but after my recent blunder it all became very clear. I feel I was shown no mercy as justice needed to be done. A little mercy would have gone a long way. We all do things we regret, we all make mistakes and for many of us it weighs heavily. It feels like there is no escape.

Perhaps we are just sensitive types, but we end up spending a lot of time trying to avoid making mistakes. When I was in management I never wanted to be the one who was to blame.

It was so convenient when it was someone else’s fault, such a relief! But some people are able to hold their hands up and say it was their fault and apologise and that seems to be a great way to be.

Whilst I sit in the dog house with my head hung low with no prospect of a little mercy or forgiveness, another thought has come into my mind. I cannot concern myself with how someone else views me or how they think about me. That is their business not mine.

I cannot influence what people think about me, the judgements they make, the thoughts they have. It is not necessarily my fault they think those thoughts.

It is their choice how they want to regard me. It is a very freeing thought if I can allow myself to believe it. How much would it change our lives if we were able to let these things go and move on? And maybe I can show a little mercy at times when people make those mistakes aimed at me and not run straight for justice.

Penny Gundry
About the author

Penny Gundry is a coach and facilitator working with professional women to find stillness in everyday life. Penny is the author of the book Glimmers of Light Dancing; A Fable for Our Times. She has a wealth of experience and is asked to speak regularly at events throughout the UK. Visit Penny's website Stillness Practice to find out more.

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