Rob Knight

Doing a dumb thing

November 30, 2009

Standing on front of the movie display for 'Legion.'

Recently, I did a dumb thing. Without getting into specifics, let’s just assume that the thing I did was sufficiently dumb to warrant self-reflection, more than one apology, and a blog post.

So how do you recover from doing a dumb thing? I don’t know for sure, but here’s where I started.

Accept that you did a dumb thing

If you did something dumb, you need to own up to it. It can’t be overstated: you save yourself a lot of trouble when you are honest about doing something dumb. Everyone does dumb things from time to time. The time it takes you to recover from doing a dumb thing is directly correlated to how willing you are to accept and admit that you did a dumb thing.

Accept that your reasoning might have been flawed

Chances are, while you were doing the dumb thing, you had a rational reason for why you were doing it. Now that you are out of that moment, you should probably go somewhere private and think about whether or not that reason is still rational. What sounded perfectly normal in the moment probably seems dumb now. Try explaining your reasoning to a friend or say it out loud to yourself. Or, say it to your cat (don’t let anyone see you saying it to your cat, because that is dumb too).

Understand the dumb thing before trying to fix it

Never set about fixing a dumb thing before you understand what you did. Some dumb things don’t reveal themselves as dumb things until time passes (or someone walks up and tells you). You may have done a dumb thing that hurt someone’s feelings, changed or harmed a friendship, or made daily interactions with others difficult. Doing a dumb thing can carry more weight than you know. Be sure you understand the magnitude of what you did before you try to mend it.

Accept the outcome of doing dumb things

If the dumb thing you did hurt someone, be ready to accept that things may never be the same between you and that person. Don’t try to fix a dumb thing by doing more dumb things. This just compounds the situation. It’s important to accept that doing dumb things comes with consequences that you have no control over.

Above all else, accept that you did a dumb thing with grace and humility. Those affected by the dumb thing you did may not forgive you. A friendship may have been harmed or lost, or a relationship altered. Or both. Some dumb things are forgiven with time, but not all dumb things are forgotten. Accept this and learn from the dumb thing you did. Make sure that you’ve made amends and apologized to those affected…if you can. Some dumb things may be difficult or impossible to talk about openly and that may make it harder to recover from. Just try to move forward with grace and humility and hopefully things will work out.