The Reprimand: 3 top tips for dealing with rebuke and disapproval

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You are trekking along, minding your own business, working hard and it happens. Maybe you did something wrong, maybe you were misunderstood, maybe it was an accident, never the less, you were reprimanded. It happens to the best of us. As a child many of us were reprimanded and although we never liked it, it was often an expected and normal part of growing up. As an adult however, it’s a whole different story. We are used to being autonomous, following through with our own plans, making our own decision. To be told you are wrong, or have done something wrong, stings a whole lot more and injurers our pride in a way it never did when we were children.

It happened to me recently. Something I innocently and casually said was interpreted as being rude and disrespectful and I was dutifully informed that my attitude had to change. I was mortified, I had not intended to be rude or disrespectful and couldn’t imagine how what I had said could have been so wrongfully interpreted. My first, internal response was one of indignation and a sense of injustice- ‘didn’t they know that anyone who knows me, would never accuse me of being rude and disrespectful or of having a bad attitude?!’. Even though my inner self was looking a little like this…

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Wisdom has taught me to push those initial feelings aside and respond in a different manner. Here are my top three tips for dealing with a reprimand…

1) Apologise…

Our first reaction to being told we’re wrong is often a defensive one. Our prideful nature would have us say- ‘how dare they tell us we’re wrong’, ‘ I don’t bring up all the things they do wrong’, ‘can’t they see all the hard work and positive things I’m doing?’, ‘how could they misunderstand me like that?‘.

Jumping into defence mode will only bring grief and trouble. James 4:6 says “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble”, I think the same goes for human beings too. You are more likely to meet opposition to your plea of innocence or forgiveness if you jump straight into defence mode, it will only bring more grief and trouble than the situation is worth. Humbling yourself and apologising (however difficult it may be and despite wether you were ‘right’ or ‘wrong’) will always calm and defuse a situation and help create open channels for communications

2) Reflect…

After the reprimand has happened, take some time to reflect. The saying ‘ you learn something new every day’ doesn’t just refer to classroom knowledge or random fun facts- every part of our lives is an opportunity to learn… Were you at fault? Was there something you could have done differently? Perhaps you weren’t at fault and the other person was having a bad day? How can you be sensitive to others needs and minimise future misunderstandings? Is this your issue or someone else’s issue?

Self reflection goes a long way in moulding us into strong, emotionally healthy people. It also encourages our creative thinking skills and helps prevent us from repeating the same mistakes over and over again (the definition of insanity, as the saying goes!). If you’re not used to self reflecting this can be difficult to start with. Taking a journal, finding some spare time and a safe, peaceful place to think are all useful tips to get you started. Forewarning: It’s not always pleasant to shine a light on your inner life and see whats hiding there, you may not always like what you find. Go easy on yourself, we are all on a journey and each step forward brings us closer to our destination and to becoming the kind of people we were created to be.

3) Let it go…

Now that you’ve apologised and reflected, it’s time to move forward. I know this seems a little harsh, but ultimately non of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. Our minds are powerful tools and if allowed, will wreak havoc on our internal life. It will replay situations and dredge up old feeling until they become bigger than Ben Hur (look that one up in Urban Dictionary if you need to!) and appear as reality.

When those thoughts and feeling start to surface you have the power to tell your mind to let it go, consciously make a decision to let go of the offence, hurt and anger. A useful tip for doing this is thinking or speaking aloud the good things about the person in question, or telling yourself the valuable lessons you learnt from this situation etc. Philippians 4:8 tells us that thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable is one of the ways we can have inner peace and joy. There will always be trials, disagreements, hurts and disappointments but if we carried around baggage from every encounter, we would never be able to stand up under the weight of them. Let it go.

Nobody likes to be reprimanded but at the end of the day you can’t let bumps in the road throw you off course, ruin your day or week or year. Apologise, reflect, let it go, then dust yourself off, get back up and keep moving forward. You have value and purpose and a unique contribution to make to this world. Being buried under your failures, mistakes, hurts or resentments only holds you back from reaching your full potential. Breath and smile, the emotions of today will fade tomorrow and in the years to come, the mountains you see now will look far off and insignificant.

Much Love,

Amy

Ps. Please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your experiences and advice for dealing with reprimands and other tough situations!