Stop Reliving Embarrassment
Do you ever keep punishing yourself by reliving bad things? Embarrassing moments? Rejections, failures, break-ups and stuff like that? I know I do. We often do this because we want to avoid making the same mistake again. It is probably some, ‘tricky-evolutionary-psychology,’ stuff going on there and I understand that. But I’m here to tell you from experience to STOP doing that.
See, when we experience feelings, both good and bad they are really ‘ephemeral.’ That’s a fancy way of saying - they don’t last long. And this is especially true if we just leave them alone and we don’t roll them around in our head all the time.
This issue really picks up steam when we start to create a story or narrative around a certain feeling or set of feelings. The feeling is usually camouflaged as a person or disguised as an event. But since those people aren’t there and the event has actually passed lets just recognize it for what it really is - a feeling. And once we start to build that story around that feeling we can really keep it going, we really let it in, mull it over and savor it like a piece of hard candy. An awful bitter piece of hard candy.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell (see what I did there)? He proved we can anchor feelings to stimuli. The dog salivated every time the bell was rung for food. After repeating that exercise a couple of times the dog would salivate simply by hearing the sound of the bell ringing even though there was no food present.
Well guess what, humans are much better at this than our canine companions. So we become expert level ninjas when it comes to letting our subconscious beat us up about a story created by us, around a feeling that was ALSO created by us. It’s almost not fair how much our mind gangs up on us when it comes to reinforcing this negative pattern. Feelings can be harder to control otherwise we would all be unemotional like Spock from Star Trek.
The key to remember here is that when we aren’t happy with whatever it is we are feeling; we can attack that problem in our logical brain by modifying or even getting rid of the story that we’ve created around that feeling. Here are a set of actionable steps you can take to hijack control over your mind in order to stop reliving your embarrassing memories:
Step 1: Recognize
A crutch for modifying the story is first to recognize it. This is the initial step in getting some control over the runway thoughts, the runway stories and feelings that we let dig roots in our psyche.
Step 2: Attach An Alternate Feeling
Think of another time where we’ve done something well instead of when you bungled something. Don’t always use the same task or event or you can attach undue importance to THAT event as well. Try to think of something new each week that is positive or helpful for breaking this pattern.
Step 3: Wear/Have A Physical Memento
If you are still having a tough time restructuring your memories to positive stimuli, wear a specific accessory that you like (such as a bracelet, watch, necklace) that reminds you to think optimistically every time you look at it. Another method is to keep a small memento on your work desk, bedside table or bathroom to remind you of the same happy feeling. For example, I keep this small glass light bulb on my study desk that makes me smile every time I see it.
Step 4: Stop Worrying What Others Think About You
If you're feeling awkward about a situation, it's probably because you don't want others to think badly about you. But who cares what other people think? According to Fast Company, workplace psychology coach Melody J. Wilding said, "As human beings with egos and an innate self-awareness of our own feelings, actions, and thoughts, we tend to notice and greatly exaggerate our flaws while assuming everyone around us has a microscope focused on faults, mistakes, and slip-ups." In reality, most people don't notice half the things we worry about. Instead of stressing over what other people think, embrace the embarrassing moment by laughing it off and forgetting about it.
This process sounds more complex than it is and with practice this gets easier. By slowly reducing the amount we relive our embarrassing memories we can go through life in a much healthier mindset and you’ll see the effects immediately. You deserve to be happy, and this is one of the easiest ways to begin your journey with personal development. I promise.
Good luck and let me know if this helped you in the comment section below!