None of us enjoy when we inadvertently make ourselves look foolish. Unfortunately, sometimes, it just happens. When it does it makes us feel awkward and embarrassed ashamed. For me, this usually occurs while asking a question, making a statement, or presenting something I believe to be fact that turns out not to be the case. All of a sudden I realize how foolish the last thing I just said or did was and begin thinking, “Everyone here must think I’m’ a total idiot!” This actually just happened to me earlier this week.
The truth is that this happens to all of us at one time or another. It’s the risk we take when putting ourselves out there to interact and share our thoughts, ideas, and lives with other people. When this occurs, it is imperative that we be mindful not to let the experience cause us to shrink back from being fully engaged in life. Usually we want to pull back to avoid the risk of looking foolish again in the future. That is the last things we should do! As much as we may feel like disengage, it’s important not to let a single moment define us or negatively shape our behaviors moving forward.
I believe there are some more constructive things we can do, such as:
- Realize that one embarrassing moment does not define you or diminish your value as a person.
- Tell someone close to you that you trust and feel save with about your experience.
- Look at the situation through the lens of humor. Was it funny? If so, give yourself permission to laugh at the situation; and at yourself.
If you really want to cause something to happen that will benefit others, try the following when an embarrassing moment happens to someone you know:
- Empathize with them. Tell them you understand exactly how they feel.
- Tell them about a time when you embarrassed yourself, or made yourself look foolish in front of other. As you’re recounting the event, freely laugh at yourself, and let them know it’s ok for them to laugh along with you.
- Here’s the best thing you can do for them: Tell them you still think they’re great. Let them know the event doesn’t define them in your eyes, or diminish their value to you by telling them: “I still think you’re pretty great, special, cool, fantastic…” you get the idea.
Let’s not let one embarrassing moment keep us from being fully engaged in life. We all have too much of ourselves to offer the world to keep it hidden away, for fear of looking foolish.
As long as we want to be engaged in life, we’re all going to experience moments where we may look foolish or not present our best selves. It’s going to happen.
The only way to avoid it is by never sharing your thoughts or ideas with others, and that’s no way to live. Instead, just remember that when it does occur, go easy on yourself. The moment does not define you, and it will pass sooner than you realize. And don’t forget to encourage others not to be too hard on themselves either. They’ll appreciate your kind words and be encouraged by your example.