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What to do When YOU F*cked up! Dealing with Crisis and Bad Decisions

Updated on April 26, 2011

The following is an Excerpt from the soon to be published "Practical Ideas & Thoughts for the Weary Optimist" by Brian Norris.

Today’s Thought : Dealing with the negative consequences caused by a few impromptu decisions can become a lifetime endeavor. It’s not just your life that needs to be pieced together. It’s all the people in your life.

When something you did comes back to haunt you, the last person you should pity is yourself. After all, you weren’t just a casualty of some giant asteroid, you WERE the asteroid! Being accountable requires accepting this stark reality. Everyone within your universe of contacts suffers when you make poor decisions or exercise lousy judgment. The concentric rings of destruction impact:

  • informal acquaintances
  • your own customers, coworker, employers and employees
  • businesses you frequented or recommended
  • your inner circle of friends
  • your parents and siblings
  • your lovers and children

What to do when you f*cked up...

First, make a promise to your spouse and/or the rest of your family or friends not to do something rash like killing yourself. It is unfair that you get out easily and leave others to have to clean up your mess. With suicide off the table, you have no responsible option left but to keep on living and by default, agreeing to endure the hardships or sacrifices that follow.

Second, fully accept that your actions caused major disruptions. The longer you point fingers at anyone but yourself, the longer it will take to move forward. Even if someone else provoked you or enabled you or even was a sidekick or accomplice, you have to look at your role in the mess up objectively and realistically. Your decisions, responses and choices led to this situation!

Third, look for the reason why you made the series of lousy decisions that got you into this predicament. What’s the source of your transgression? Is it your penchant for blaming your past? Is it your fear of being normal or alone or letting others down? So many things we do are the result of addictions, or the result of not having the right set of coping skills or lacking the social or moral filter to self-police. Like it or not, life requires boundaries and clear limits.

Fourth, ask for forgiveness (and continue to ask for it) from those hurt by your decisions.

Fifth, get help. It might be talking to a person or group of people who have gone through what you’re going through. Help might be meeting with a clergyperson, psychologist or experienced layperson who understands how depression, poor coping skills, phobias, low self-esteem (or too much of it), lack of education, temptations, emotional voids and vices can cloud our logic.

Help might include taking medications that help you think clearly, reduce anxiety, manage depression or keep your hormone level and/or blood pressure in check.

Help might be taking time to read books and articles like this, or watching videos that offer clear instruction on creating a protective framework for yourself and learning from your mistakes.

If you can be honest with yourself, you can be your own teacher. Time by yourself spent in quiet reflection gives you a way to get to the core of what you believe and to exorcise your inner demons. But it is lonely and painful, especially when you only learn certain lessons by messing up and having to endure the consequences!

Sixth, work with your support team to make a series of new agreements, systems and personal contracts to minimize the risk of encore hap hazardous decision making. This might include deciding to pursue a new job or completely new career. It may mean moving out of a neighborhood, city, state or country. Your new contract might mean completely disassociating yourself from old lovers, friends, clients or family members.

It might mean never going to a former hangout or service provider again. It may mean refraining from watching or listening to a particular author, artist, topic or genre. Or, it may mean choosing never to log on to a specific social network or visit a particular type of website. For many, the hardest agreement will be buying a one way ticket out of “Fantasy Island” to settle in the suburbs of “Welcome to Reality, Deal with It” for a very long time .

Seventh, find some meaningful reasons (other than you’re a stupid, selfish, greedy, conceited, irresponsible, superficial jerk) why the chaos you wreaked was an essential part of your journey.

For example, sometimes the rolling waves of change bring healing and redemption. They restore vitality, a sense of urgency and panache to an otherwise stagnant life. We need the occasional tsunami to wash away our comfort zones and force us out of our ruts.

We can reason that change – however painful and regardless of how it came to be – makes everyone who has the resolve to keep their heads above the water stronger, more resilient, and ultimately more empathetic to the plight of others.

Perhaps this happened to make sure you learned to exhibit personal discipline all the time and to respect boundaries, or to remind you that in this reality you have to play by their rules. The weary optimist might see it as a lesson that taught you to keep your need to be impulsive in check by observing social norms and to stay “behind the lines” so as not to risk crossing them.

Perhaps you needed to personally experience why we’re often warned to be careful what we wish for….We might get what we wanted!

Change that comes via our choices can bring a bounty of blessings or cornucopia of curses. Or both in the span of a few minutes! Anything can be had, for a price. When we do get our wish, the seemingly negligible ripples that began with a good intention, or sincere desire can turn into life changing waves. Some waves are great for surfing; others, not so much!

Before you throw that wish-infused penny into the proverbial pond consider the consequences that come with getting what you wanted. Just as the penny breaks the stillness of water so to do the changes set into motion by our desires and the actions they provoke.

Whatever the reasons you select, remember that sanity is the ability to look for ways to adapt to new circumstances and new realities. That’s why we need to ascribe meaning to the events in our lives, including our own f*ck ups. Doing so preserves meaning and mitigates the randomness of chaos.

In the end, the certainty and lethal qualities of ongoing change requires that we resign ourselves to living in a world where the questions change as often as the answers. Even if it improves our condition in the end, change still hurts. It is uncomfortable, annoying and leaves a nasty ring around the toilet bowl.

Positivity Expert Brian Norris helps teens and adults to remain cautiously optimistic about life. His is the author of Escape Life Sucks Syndrome , The Creative Sales and Marketing Manual and the soon to be published Practical Thoughts and Ideas for the Weary Optimist . You can also watch his new Prayer for End Times Youtube Video at Or visit for information on having Brian speak at your next event.


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