Sometimes--like most people, I suspect or at least hope--I'll do something that's minor but kind of foolish, and maybe someone will notice and remark that it was unwise. So, like, today, trying to be helpful, I opened a colleague's office door in front of a student (we have a suite that locks from the outside; we have individual door locks, too, but most of us don't use them)--not to muck around or snoop, but just to glance at something--and later another colleague, who was there, said, "I don't like the idea of students knowing that we don't lock our doors...."
He was right, of course, but it was not a hugely big deal, since the suite is locked when no one's in there. And we certainly don't let STUDENTS poke around in others' offices (although I did find a mysterious late paper on my desk when I came in the other day--but there are other possible explanations for that, such as that a colleague (or even my husband, whose office is next door) dropped it off).
Anyway, the point is not whether I did something foolish or not--I'm willing to admit that I did, although I would add that it was also trivial--but rather that I find it extremely hard to let go of this kind of thing. I get hung up on it and find myself wanting the person who "caught" me to grant me some kind of absolution. Or else I can't think about it without working myself up into a paroxysm of self-defense, trying over and over again to convince myself that I was PERFECTLY JUSTIFIED in my behavior.
Really what I'd like is to be able to comfortably accept that I commit errors now and again and not have to grapple with this nagging guilty sick feeling. Because the other annoying thing is that the residue of regret--even for trivial things--tends to stay with me for a long time; I'll probably remember this afternoon's slip-up with shame for years.
What is it about admitting that we're (or I'm--maybe it's just me) in the wrong that's so threatening?