Earlier today I was on a call for work, and I asked a question at the wrong time. I felt SO embarrassed about it. All kinds of thoughts flooded in: did I make the other person feel uncomfortable? Do they think I’m incompetent? How will they feel working with me moving forward? Did I hurt the trust we had established? You’d think, with all these extremely negative thoughts, that I had done something to severely impact this person’s life in a negative way, but no. It was literally as simple as asking the wrong question at the wrong time. Afterwards my mind wouldn’t shut up about it. Not wanting to drain my energy and get sucked into this negative thought loop all day, I found a way to work through it. And now that I think I’ve got a pretty good system, I thought I’d write it down. For you, for me, for anyone who has EVER IN THEIR LIFE, embarrassed themselves. Here’s how to stop worrying when you embarrass yourself:
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
When we’ve done something embarrassing, our minds take us to the worst possible place and we spiral into a negative thought loop. This moment feels like the biggest deal in the world, and we think it will radically affect the trajectory of our lives. So, you have to shift the perspective. Is this moment something you’ll be thinking about next year? Next month? Next week? Tomorrow? I feel safe to say the answer is, probably not. I know this sounds morbid, but, let’s say you knew you were going to die later today. Would you care at all about whether or not you “embarrassed” yourself? Would that even be on your radar in any way shape or form? My guess is no. At least I’d hope that’d be the answer. Because guess what? Truly, it does not matter. We are a cluster of cells with a conscious floating around in outer space and we’re worried about saying or doing something that might make another cluster of cells with a conscious think differently about us? WHO. FREAKING. CARES.
Also, the people you’re worried will think lesser of you or laugh at you when you inevitably do something embarrassing, have also done embarrassing things. And, if they’re the kind of people who would think lesser of you or mock you so easily, then do you really want to care about what they think anyway?
REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE
As mentioned a few sentences ago, you are not the only one who’s ever done something embarrassing. You are not the first, and most certainly will not be the last. This is a totally normal part of life that we just have to let roll off our backs. If we spend our lives constantly trying to never embarrass ourselves, we’ll waste a lot of energy on that instead of just enjoying the life we’ve been given. Plus, you’ll be pretty boring. People who are “perfect” and never make any mistakes aren’t relatable, and they most definitely are not real. Don’t believe the hype. Rejoice in your imperfections. Utilize them and learn what you need from them, to take with you along the way.
Which is a perfect lead up to this next point. Practicing self-compassion is the most underrated thing EVER, in my opinion. I actually just started really thinking about self-compassion a couple of months ago when I listened to this podcast about it. It was a concept I had never heard of before, and the moment it was put in front of me, I became fascinated. Think about it as being your own best friend. How do you treat your best friend? How do you lift them up and help them understand how amazing they are? Can you say you do the same for yourself? For most of us, that answer would be a hard no. We are so mean to ourselves… we tear ourselves down and have trouble believing we’re worthy of anything good. If we do something embarrassing we beat ourselves up over it for an endless amount of time. Do we do that to our friends? No! We laugh about it, pat them on the back and say “happens to the best of us.” Imagine how our experience of such a situation would be, if we could do that for ourselves? Let’s start doing that.
Laughter is one of the best medicines in life, and, I’d argue, that the ability to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest qualities a human can have. It makes us more relatable, which allows us to authentically connect with those around us. People don’t connect with perfection. It doesn’t speak to anyone because no one is perfect. But when someone shows their imperfections, and isn’t ashamed of them, those around them have an opportunity to appreciate that person AND themselves in a new way. It breeds humility and this world could definitely use more of that. So laugh- it’s good for everyone involved.
When you do something embarrassing, it may feel like everything you’ve been working towards might come crashing down right then and there. I get it, I was just there a few hours ago. And while embarrassing yourself does admittedly suck (I don’t think anyone’s out there trying to do it on purpose), it is an opportunity to show yourself and others who you really are, and to model self-love. You have a chance to remember how fleeting life truly is and that everything (even the tough stuff) is a miracle in its own way. You have a chance to connect with others on a deeper level, and love yourself on a deeper level too. And, while you’re at it, you may even get a good laugh in. And suddenly, embarrassing myself doesn’t sound so bad after all.
What have you found helpful in situations like these? Would love to hear your experiences and advice!
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