I heard this expression once, “I’m not who I think I am. Nor am I who you think I am. But I am who I think you think I am.”
I had to read it repeatedly to even understand what it meant! The meaning became clear to me but not until I suffered this expression myself!
I said something incredibly stupid to someone, stupid enough to make me want to cringe at the very thought of it! And if I could somehow have the proverbial “chullu bhar pani” (a handful of water) I would have gladly drowned in it! The more I thought about it, the more my face turned a nasty shade of pink! I apologized repeatedly to that person, as if doing so would rid me of my embarrassment. And the apology addict that I am, I kept apologizing at every given opportunity! “Just one more apology and I’ll be ok” I would think. But I didn’t feel good at all. Far from that, I felt worse!
Theoretically, if I could stop myself from revisiting my past, and try and stay in the present moment, I would probably not feel embarrassed, because what I said belonged to my past. It belonged to a different time and place. Practically though, it was impossible to disassociate oneself like that!
And apologizing kept taking me back to my past. That was a vicious cycle I was getting myself into!
As I tried to rid myself of these feelings, I realized that most of the times, we base our identity on what we think, other people think about us. We assume that people are reacting to our embarrassing act in a way that they may or may not be. And so we base our reaction to our perception of what we guess their reaction may be. That is a lot of needless guesswork!!
Embarrassment belongs to the disorder known as perfectionism. Think about it. You are embarrassed because you didn’t live up to your standards. That tiny little gap between your expectations of yourself and your performance caused that embarrassment. The fear of being perceived in a way that is less endearing than we would like it to be.
No one’s perfect anyway!