I did it again.
I tried to climb up on my high and mighty throne, promptly fell off, and felt like a real, bonafide jerkface.
Here’s what happened:
It was the hottest day in July and I was hanging out in the garden with some of my cousins.
Now, when most people say that it feels like a sauna, they’re usually exaggerating.
This day was the exception. It really felt like a mudda-luvin’ sauna.
We all felt sluggish, but managed to keep the conversation going.
Then one of my cousins referenced the Five Phases of Chinese medicine to explain someone’s personality. My other cousin’s husband asked what she meant by the Five Phases, so we explained it to him.
There are 5 Phases in Chinese medicine, and everyone’s personality tends to fall into one of the 5 Phases.
(You can read more about the 5 Phases here).
I love talking about this stuff!
I forgot about the heat and felt like the Energizer Bunny as I rattled off which Phase I thought best reflected each person’s personality.
The conversation was great—until it wasn’t.
My first cousin, the one who had started the conversation, disagreed with me about one of the designations I made.
Her sister (who was not present, but has studied some veterinary Chinese medicine) had explained it to her in a different way, and she thought so-and-so was really more Earth than Metal.
Then it happened.
My Ego pushed me out of the way and took over.
Hadn’t I just spent 5 years studying and gotten a Master’s in Chinese medicine?
Who was SHE to disagree with me?
All she knew was what her sister had told her, and her sister definitely didn’t know as much as I did.
“I understand these things better than your sister does,” I said curtly.
Ugh. Yuck! Pfoiy!
Just writing it makes me cringe.
High and mighty one second, and then SPLAT! Down I came.
Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to push the Rewind button and try again.
My cousin might even have been right! But because she hadn’t stroked my ego I bristled and in that moment.
Distracted by my pride I couldn’t even hear what she had said.
“I. am. such. an. IDIOT!” I thought afterwards.
I quickly followed up by saying, “Well, everyone has all 5 Phases, and there’s a way to explain each in all of us,” but it didn’t matter.
The damage was done.
I had let my ego take the steering wheel and she had run the car straight into a pole.
When I walked home later I could still feel my shame, but I managed to get over it quickly.
When embarrassed yourself you can’t let it keep you down for long.
Instead of wallowing in self-loathing, you’ve got to power up and transform the experience into a positive one.
First, you’ve got to stop identifying your Past-You with your Present-You.
The know-it-all lady who just put her dirty foot in her mouth? Poof! She’s already gone.
Think about it.
If you could go back and do it again, you’d say something different, right?
There’s your proof that you’re not the same person who embarrassed herself just a few minutes ago.
You might feel like her, but you’ve got more experience and wisdom than your Past-Self had, so move on from that identity. You won’t be able to forgive her until you do.
The next thing to do is figure out how your mistake can be useful to others.
For example, my mistake prompted me to write this article, and now I am hopefully helping you feel better about your own mistakes.
You can also use your mistake to make you more compassionate towards others when they make similar mistakes.
After all, everyone hurts the same way when they make a mistake (BAD).
If you can lighten up the heaviness others feel you’ll be doing the world a whole lotta good.
And finally, when you notice the part of yourself that you don’t really like, extend your compassion to her like a mother with a fussy baby.
There’s no need to scold your Past-Self, she feels bad enough already.
Instead, try to transform your embarrassment into compassion.
Once she’s seen and heard, your Past Self will be less likely to act up in the future.
Of course, being kind to yourself can be a big project.
Sometimes you feel too worn down, and it’s just easier to curl up with your journal and curse at yourself and the world.
But if you start to practice seeing your negative feelings without identifying with them or judging them as harshly, you’ll start feeling better over time.
When you start being kinder to yourself, you collect more reasons to feel better about yourself, too.
Alright. There you have it. I told you my embarrassing story, now it’s your turn.
Leave a comment in the comments section and tell me how you successfully turned around a situation you weren’t too proud of to begin with.
I’d love to hear your story, and I personally read & respond to every comment I get!
’Til next time,
Love, hugs, and pumkin spice lattés,