We’ve all had times where we’ve felt embarrassed, whether it was from something we did, something we said, or something that has happened to us. But we also know that it’s our mistakes and failures that make us stronger, better and wiser. The faster we move on from them, the faster we improve! Truthfully, I’m trying to work on this myself. I am hoping that reminding myself of these very solid truths and pinpointing some some tactical tricks will help. And also that sharing my own recent mistake can help us all to feel less alone and recover from our embarrassment more quickly so we can back to being our awesome selves as soon as humanly possible.
There’s no point in dwelling on the past.
Once something happened, it’s happened. You can’t change it. It’s over. You made the mistake, you said the wrong thing, The only things you can do are forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on. Easier said than done right?
Sometimes in life, it feels like we only get one shot at something. But that’s never really the case. There’s always going to be a chance to apply what we learn (from any failure or success) to another opportunity, even if it’s not the same exact one.
Have you ever heard the saying; Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together? This is true. I can think of several times in my own life where something went terribly wrong, or I made a really big mistake. But applying what I learned to the next opportunity to made that experience better and both of them worthwhile.
Take this blog for example… Did you know I put a lot of time and energy into creating a travel blog? While it wasn’t a complete flop, I had to accept that it wasn’t something I was passionate enough about to keep up with. It felt like a complete failure when I had to end that journey, but I learned a lot, hopefully enough to make this blog the “better thing that falls together.” But it might not be! The “better thing” might be the next endeavor, or the one after that. As long as there is consistent learning and growth something good is bound to come of it.
If we think of all the lessons we’ve learned from our mistakes or failures that have lead to big successes, it alleviates some of the pressure we put on ourselves.
Remember, you are your own worst critic.
While you may feel a huge burden and blame for what you did to embarrass yourself, if it only affected you, everybody else probably forgot about it a few minutes after it happened. Remember this when you’re thinking about it three days later… is it really worth the time and energy?
Sometimes our mistakes do affect other people, especially if we are on a team or in any type of relationship. The thing to remember is that if the people you are working with really care about you, they understand. They understand that you are only human and humans make mistakes. They make mistakes too. If you have anxiety and constantly worry about other people, like I do, this is a hard pill to swallow. But you can do it! Sometimes I freak out and have trouble breathing just thinking about the mistakes I’ve made. I know I have the power in me to forgive myself, and you can forgive yourself too!
People who care about you, don’t want to hurt you.
If you legitimately do have criticism coming your way, I am not undermining that. One of the beginning steps to dealing with it is to evaluate your criticizer. Where are they coming from, and what skin do they have in your game? If the answers are from the outside and none, just remember: there is no reason to feel guilty about disregarding comments from the peanut gallery.
If the criticism is from someone you truly care about or someone that has been affected by your mistakes, communication is a key component to resolution. They may not know how much what they say affects you, or you may be misunderstanding what they are saying. The bottom line is people who care about you generally don’t have intentions to make you feel bad or embarrassed. And life becomes a lot easier when you decide the opinions of people who don’t care about you don’t matter.
The majority of us don’t have a lot of critics (aside from social media trolls, which can naturally be ignored) and are just working simply on not being our own worst enemies. And that’s ok, we’ll get there and find peace with ourselves.
Why are you taking yourself so seriously?
“how to be HAPPY, dammit: a cynic’s guide to spiritual happiness” is a useful adult picture book of life lessons. I received as a gift one year for my birthday. The dedication reads “Don’t take life too seriously. Love you, Dad”
Needless to say, I have been known, once or twice to “take life too seriously.” I’m holding it in my hands right now because I am going to flip through the pages and find something that can help us to feel a little better and provides potential recovery from our embarrassment. This is a great book and I’ve found it and linked it here because I would highly recommend it for anyone who has been known to “take life too seriously” at times. Thanks Dad, love you too, very much.
Here it is, Life Lesson #18 says: “You must relax and enjoy the ride. You find it helps to remind yourself: You’re not the only one on this bumpy, curvy, frenetic ride called life. You’re not being singled out by the fates to suffer, to feel pain, to be disappointed. Everyone on this planet experiences major disappointments and pain.”
Embarrassment is painful and I feel as if I’ve disappointed myself. If you are also learning how to better handle disappointment, start with yourself. When we disappoint ourselves, we must try our best to forgive ourselves and move on.
Become ok with the possibility of making more mistakes.
So we’ve established that nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes. Some would say it’s ok as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice. Let’s just laugh at how untrue that is and say it’s always OK as long as your trying your best. The truth is, depending on the situation, sometimes it will take 5 or 10 or 50 mistakes to learn. Some things just take practice. When you participate in very challenging activities, like yoga, fishing or surfing, you are bound to fumble on the same things (there are no “mistakes” in yoga) multiple times until you get better. And then you will make new mistakes!
With any challenging activity, there is no end goal, it’s always going to be about improving, gaining experience, and accomplishing new feats. Experienced people make simple mistakes too, they just make them less often.
It’s never the worst thing you could have done.
From the extent of embarrassment I’m currently feeling, you would think that I fell flat on my face in yoga class doing a crow pose, broke my nose and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Or that I completely wiped out in a wave, got dragged under for too long and and a life guard had to come save my life. Or a really big fish pulled me overboard into the water, because I wasn’t strong enough to reel it in.
Thankfully, it was nothing life threatening or really that bad at all in the grand scheme of things. But pointing out these elaborate failures (all of which have some scary realistic possibilities) is a good tactic to help minimize the anxiety, which is telling me is the mistake I’m losing sleep over is the most awful horrible thing I could have done. Clearly it’s not.
So, I bet you’re wondering what happened.
By now you’re probably curious as to what’s gotten me so worked up that I had to write this entire blog about feeling embarrassed and learning from mistakes.
Are you ready for this?…
I tied a bad knot… On someone else’s line… And they lost a really big fish. AHHH! I’m so embarrassed, I can’t believe I’m writing and admitting this on the internet. But it happened and I’m admitting it. If you don’t fish, you probably won’t understand, and you will think I’m cooky, and that’s ok. It was really no big deal. The person it impacted forgave me and brushed it off.
The much bigger question is, can I forgive myself? When I wrote the first draft of this blog I was seriously dwelling on this. It’s been a few days now. After a bit of time has passed and I’ve read my own advice I feel much better.
I acknowledge the lesson that I learned and know I will do my best not to repeat the mistake going forward. I’m going to stop feeling like everybody is still thinking about it, because they’re not. And I have to decide that I’m not going to either
We’re all hard on ourselves when it comes to certain things.
It’s important to be able to look at yourself from a place of non judgement. This will stem forgiveness. I tend to take fishing way too seriously sometimes, which is why this mistake impacted me greatly.
When I do yoga, I have zero judgement on myself. It is my escape from all things negative and restrictive. I have learned, over time and through great teachers, how to enter a non-judgement zone when I step onto my mat.
When I surf, I truly don’t care if I catch a single wave all day. If I’m out there getting tossed around in the saltwater, I’m having fun. Nothing else matters. There was a time when I took this more seriously as well, but something changed along the way and I was able to take the non-judgement I learned in yoga and transition it to surfing. It’s kind of a cool phenomenon.
When the mind gets bogged down in thinking I’m not good enough or I’m never going to improve (trust me I have those days), I try my best to think about it from the outside and see that those statements are nonsense. I know it is true that if you’re doing something and learning from your mistakes you’re going to improve. No doubt about it.
I’ll keep trying my best to see myself as it relates to fishing as a place of non-judgement too. I think it’s hard because I have so many goals I want to accomplish. This is the thing I take really seriously in my life. Are we allowed to take something seriously and forgive ourselves for mistakes? Yeah, I think so. I’ll definitely keep working on this.
The purpose of this blog is truly to build a community. We’d love to hear about your latest failure or success. We’d love to hear about your tricks to forgiving yourself and handling embarrassment. If you’d like to contribute to the conversation, please comment below. I want this to be your blog as much as it is mine.