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Do you have a bad reputation? Here is how you can redeem yourself

By Faeza
24 March 2017

People often judge us by our past mistakes

and not who we currently are. For example,

if you used to be a murderer, went to

prison and were later released, chances

are people will always refer to you as a

murderer even when you have changed your ways.

If you go around sleeping with married men and

breaking people’s marriages, you will always carry

the home-wrecker label and so on.

NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES

It is often the negative stereotypes that are

remembered by the communities we live in which

makes it hard to get rid of a bad reputation.

But you can redeem yourself and get the favour

of the people around you if you are committed to

proving that you have changed and truly mean it.

Ann Rennie, who is a senior counselling social

worker and part of the management team at Family

Life Centre, gives valuable tips on how to go about

salvaging your reputation.

HOW A BAD REPUTATION DEVELOPS

According to Ann, a reputation is a moral

judgement and if you deliberately challenge the

values and beliefs of your community, you run

a risk of getting a label, because they find your

behaviour unacceptable.

“Remember, you have a system of beliefs and

values of your own,” says Ann.

“When these differ from those of your own

community and you openly challenge them,

you are running the risk of getting negative

public opinion.

So when a group disapproves of your behaviour

or views, they attach a label such as immoral,

reckless, not to be trusted, cruel, wicked, racist

and sometimes, this behaviour may be associated

with alcohol or drug abuse.”

Ann says that this might be a justified description

of you, or be based on one or two acts which are

not typical of you, and which don’t represent your

true character or beliefs.

THE ADVENT OF SOCIAL MEDIA

In today’s world, you are also at risk of getting a bad

reputation through your behaviour on social media.

“One unwise moment can define you forever in a

public forum,” Ann warns, adding that some people

have become known for making shocking statements

and may live with their labels for a long time.

She says that with social media having such

an important role today, the effects of offending

statements and behaviour can be serious, even

risking prosecution, loss of a job or most of your

friendships.

“Expressing your own views, hoping to gain

respect, will not be successful if you show disrespect

for the views of others at the same time,” Ann says.

“Old labels tend to cling, so avoid making impulsive

statements or doing things in a fit of rage. Rather

use a reasoned and respectful way to disagree, and

remember that things said on social media are there

for good and can be accessed by anyone.”

HOW YOUR REPUTATION AFFECTS OTHERS

If you are a person with a bad reputation, you may

think it is your battle to fight alone, but it is not

as it affects those close to you and how they are

seen by the community. Ann says that attracting

a great deal of disapproval and criticism can be

very painful and overwhelming,

and those closest to you will

experience it with you, even if

they don’t share your views.

“It may be assumed that you

are all the same in your group or

family, and so all will suffer the

same shaming, particularly if they

try to defend you and remain

loyal to you. It seems an unfair

punishment, and you have to take

some responsibility for this.”

FIXING YOUR BAD REPUTATION

You can fix your bad

reputation by doing

certain things, according

to Ann. She recommends:

¦ If you realise that what

you have done or said is

not a true reflection of who

you are or what you believe

in, then it is important to

make a clear statement,

apologising for causing

offense and regretting that

you have hurt others.

¦ Being genuine is very

important, because we

all learned at an early age that, “Saying sorry is

not enough”, so you have to keep proving, by how

you behave.

¦ People do not always forgive easily, regardless

of how remorseful you are. Don’t expect immediate

acceptance. Humble yourself and be honest in

admitting your mistakes. Be patient, and you will

grow and learn a lot from this experience, if you

have the courage to see it through.

¦ Redeeming a badly-damaged reputation may be

a life-long task, so you will need to monitor your

behaviour carefully, and practise being the better

person you want to be, until it really becomes who

you are. You will need support through this process,

and counselling can be helpful.

¦ Getting involved in community activities is a

constructive way of healing and consolidating

your positive change, but it can’t be just for

appearances. You need to look deeply into yourself

and challenge those values and beliefs that have

led to your downfall, and again, some kind of

support is recommended.

FORGIVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS WILL TOO

Ann says a sign of knowing when you have changed

is when you no longer feel the need to justify or

minimise what you have done.

“When you can sincerely

say that you know you

made a serious mistake, but

that you have worked hard

to change, and learned to

forgive yourself, and gained

some understanding of why

it happened, so that it will

not happen again, you will

be aware of the new you, and

you can again be proud of

yourself,” she says