The psychology of my embarrassment.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Perhelion
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Perhelion

So, I’m driving down the road listening to music, with my mind wandering all over the place, and somehow I land on the memory of something from my past that was really, really embarrassing to me. I dwell on the thought, and somehow find myself actually embarrassed again, for something that happened twenty, even thirty years ago. I catch myself speaking out loud to the situation, saying the things that I wish I would have said, or somehow rationalizing or explaining my behavior. I live through shame long past, shame that should have been long buried. I’m not sure why this happens, but it happens often.

My mind seeks moments like this from my past. I’m not talking about any one situation. It’s more like my brain is actually seeking moments from my past that I can somehow rectify. It’s almost like my brain is looking for it, bringing it to my conscious level, and saying, “here – deal with it so we can get past it.” Unfortunately, that part of my past is exactly that – my past. So there is no real way of dealing with it. Sure, I can keep wishing that I could go back and change what I did or said – but it can’t happen. And figuring out what I could have said or done differently is not therapeutic, all it does is cause further shame, for what I “should have” done.

I want to emphasize that there are very few “serious” situations involved in my embarrassing memories. These are tiny little things that happened that are long forgotten by the people who witnessed the events, the people in whose presence I was embarrassed. These things were not in any way life-changing events. Just something stupid I did or said, that I wish I hadn’t done. By my mind gives these amazing weight, and once again I don’t know why.

There are sites on the net advising that you “forgive yourself” and “retrain your brain” but I’ve tried things like this with no amazing results. Probably the biggest reason I have found to feel better about all of this is that after searching for “reliving embarrassing moments” I discovered that this happens to many people, and it happens often enough for me to consider myself “normal” in regards to this issue.

It is also very cathartic for me to blog about these things, so I’m sure that after I hit the WP “Publish” button, I’ll start to feel better about the situation already. I may still experience all of these moments, however now when they come, instead of “forgiving myself” or “retraining my mind”, I’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah! I wrote about that once.”

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