The end of the month is near, which is the time we tend to be a little low on cash, plus have deadlines looming over us. During this time, with stress being higher than usual, we are prone to overlook details or make mistakes.
Whenever I say something silly, or I’m the butt of someone else’s joke, I feel horribly embarrassed. Even if the joke is really funny – or if I would have laughed had it been about anyone else. I feel like I’d rather be swallowed by the ground. But more than that, I feel like I need to compensate for that by being more ‘mature’ or un-laughable in order to redeem myself.
Here, it is not the topic that matters. Maybe it was something personal, maybe it was situational. Maybe we even joke about it with others. What is embarrassing is that ‘I was not in control of giving that information’ or ‘I was not prepared for it’. When I’m making the same joke about myself, I control what I say and how I say it – and I’m mentally prepared to be laughed at. This also applies to goof-ups made during presentations, group discussions or at a casual gathering.
After it has happened, we stew over ‘But now, they’ll forever see me that way’ or ‘Now everyone will tease me about it’. Maybe they will. What can we do to come to terms with it?
For starters, we can recognise that we are taking ourselves far too seriously. What bothers us is the lack of control over that information rather than the content itself. The moment we accept that ‘Hey, someone else shared it’, we can choose to reclaim ownership over that by laughing at ourselves. (Extremely difficult? I empathise). Sure, maybe you’ll laugh about it a week later, or a year later. (Just not yet). The moment people get that you’re okay with embracing vulnerability, it makes you more likeable and pretty gutsy – that you can laugh at yourself.
Rather than saying: ‘life is too short to take yourself so seriously’, I prefer to remind myself that: ‘I’m more than this, but this tiny aspect is also me’. Once I accept that, I can choose to work to change it or embrace it. After all, even if nothing else changes, it is a story worth telling someday!
This article has been written by Ms Nandita Seshadri, a therapist, and integral part of Adveka Foundation.