When was the last time you were crippled with embarrassment? When were you so het up about doing something, you didn't go through with it? When did you last sit down analysing a conversation you had, word for word, making sure you didn't say something stupid?
Well, I have some good news for you. It's never about you, and no one gives a shit. Be happy.
And believe it or not, when it comes to being crippled by embarrassment, social anxiety, or what other people think, these cold hard facts are something to embrace, not feel bad about. The following info is going to set you free.
OH SHIT, WHAT DID I DO?
I used to love a bit of karaoke. That was until I had a go at singing Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This. Not sure if you know this one or remember it, but it was big in 2002.
Everything was going alright, up until a point in the song that requires hitting some very high notes. With the strain on my vocal cords, I ended up sounding like a cat being strangled.
I stopped singing, and time seemed to stop.
As the music continued playing, the people in the crowd started laughing and sniggering to each other. If there was any time you wanted the floor to swallow you up, this was the time.
Red-faced, I walked off the stage feeling like a right plonker. If it weren't for a few of my friend's being there, I would have headed straight for the exit.
I didn't sleep well that night. I kept picturing people's heads from the crowd swishing in and out of my view, laughing and sniggering as they came into the picture.
The feeling of complete shame and embarrassment continued for weeks. I couldn't shift it. It eventually subsided, but the feeling plagued me for some time after the singing disaster.
You might ask, with my already existing social anxiety issues, how did I manage to do karaoke in the first place? A great question – one that raises the precise point I'm about to make.
It's the point about perception.
WHAT IS EMBARRASSMENT?
We've all been in embarrassing situations. But what is embarrassment?
How is that some people can deal with embarrassment like it doesn't mean a thing, and some people let the feeling stick with them for weeks, months, years, and sometimes a lifetime?
Well, it's as I just mentioned – it comes down to our perception.
We can choose to believe that all eyes are on us and that everyone is bothered, or we can deal in facts – facts like people tend not to see too far past themselves.
No one needs an invitation to be paranoid.
What happens is we get so focused on the fact that other people are watching us, down to the tiniest detail, we convince ourselves that other people are always watching. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.
People rarely see much past themselves. If they do, it is very shortlived.
Have a think about how you think.
Whenever someone asks you something about anything, including themselves, what do you do? You go straight back to referring to yourself and your experience. Why? Because there is nowhere else to draw your experience from.
If you don't like to be in crowds and someone tells you about a big event they went to, you will go through your back catalogue of memories and experience and naturally assume that they had a bad time.
MY MEMORIES & EXPERIENCE OF CROWDS = BAD TIME
This natural bias for seeing things how you see them is the reason you prefer to spend your time with people who share common ground. You haven't got the time or patience to listen to someone ramble on about their golf handicap if you can't stand golf. Talk about something that sparks your inner fire, however, and you've found yourself your soulmate.
By basing everything on your vision, you will always be biased in your view. Everything will refer back to you.
Some people can take this bias and still listen to others. For the know-it-alls, you are not telling them anything they don't already know, so they will shut you down quicker than a Windows-operated computer wanting to update.
See how this natural bias works?
Our brain's default setting is to think about ourselves and our own experience.
Do yourself a favour and remember this the next time you think other people are judging you, watching you or giving a shit.
Generally, they're not paying attention if it isn't about them. And if they are, it is very shortlived.
You've heard the saying, 'Today's newspaper is tomorrow's chip paper', right? Well, it is very much true.
People, the news and events move on, very quickly. Your act of stupidity might get the limelight for a while, but people move on, quickly.
Add to this the fact that we are all selfish at our core and that we are never looking too far outside of ourselves, and it should make you wonder why you allow yourself to stay trapped in embarrassment, or remain stuck on analysing that conversation.
By doing so, you are handing over all your power. You are keeping yourself a prisoner. You are telling everyone and anyone that they have permission to come along and take a big dump on your good mood or optimistic outlook whenever and however they like. And whenever they choose to do that, they guarantee to get attention from you.
(Get ready with a fist punch upwards.)
I say reserve your power. Free yourself. Do not give out such pleasure to undeserving people. Remember that their views and opinions have as much power and influence as you allow. No one else gets to dictate that.
For those people who stick around a little longer to see your misery – the people who gain pleasure from eking out your embarrassment or shortlived despair – it is worth noting that these people are the most toxic people of all.
If they were content within themselves, they wouldn't have to draw joy from other people's misfortune. They would be too busy being content.
Take extra pleasure from knowing that these people feel the worst about themselves, hence the need to eke out other people's suffering. But don't take too much pleasure from knowing this – that might make you as toxic as them.
Oh, and it's also worth noting that no one is thinking too far out of themselves, no one cares for too long, it's never about you, we're all selfish, and no one gives a shit.