Festive Season - emotional times! So many expectations and anticipation - good ones and bad ones!
And then on the day, all the hell of emotions breaks loose to keep the kids at bay, the family in peace, and the turkey from burning.
With several generations in one house mums become girls and dads become boys again, and old anxieties break open all too quickly.
There is one emotion which I believe is THE one that keeps us from growing up, achieving things we only dare dreaming of in a silent minute when nobody is around, and which keeps us from letting loose of things we can't change anyway. In my eyes it is the most powerful of all:
It is used in emotional blackmail, it keeps us from doing the right things just because there are others who might point a finger if we fail. It keeps us from having fun, and it goes so far that we even bother whether or not strangers find our behaviour or flaws inappropriate. In columns like 'What's the Worst to Happen?' and 'How Embarrassing!' I tried to get to the bottom of it:
What is this fear of being unpleasant to others!
I might not have succeeded entirely, but I gained an insight: There are two levels of embarrassment.
Firstly, the easy part: We can be embarrassed for ourselves. It is sort of a one-to-one relationship with the audience. It is the feeling one gets when having made a mistake or a fool out of oneself - the stinging feeling of somebody laughing about me or thinking that I'm a silly cow.
I found that the first step of growing up is to get rid of it by laughing it away. Start laughing before everybody else does. At the beginning it still hurts a bit, but it becomes a bit like stand-up comedy. The better you get the more people will laugh about your joke, and not about you anymore.
It frees the spirit, and one might dare doing new things, even anticipating failure and already preparing for the joke to go with it if needed.
Well, and then there is the second level. The one that isn't that easy to tackle, because it involves people one either loves or is dependant on. All of a sudden the relationship is a triangle.
I'm talking about the 'Behave! You are embarrassing me!' situations. Only that sometimes the signs are more subtle. We get to know the likes and the dislikes of the people around us very well, and in order to keep them happy and pleased we all to often tend to take pre-emptive action by NOT taking action. Not singing, not discussing certain issues, not asking a question, not putting our noses out there. Because all this makes us visible, and once we are visible our mistakes are as well.
See the difference!
As soon as there is a third party involved, nothing is easy anymore.
Being told that I'm a silly cow - I can live with that!
Listening in, while somebody close to me is told that I'm a silly cow and realising that this makes him/her look bad - That is hard to deal with!
Oneself is out of control, everything depends on the other person. Situations like those display the quality of the relationship to this person on a silver tray. The reaction - embarrassment, defence, acceptance, laughing it away, ignoring - will determine how much one will be able to rely on this person in the future. It is nipping into the essentials of social relationship - Trust!
These are the situations nagging on me, tiny encounters sometimes, which are long forgotten by the other participants, but which are still burning inside me. So far my remedy was to avoid similar situations like hell and to stop doing what I did - however much I liked it.
Well, and if that isn't possible, then the remedy is to avoid mistakes at all cost by putting in more time and money than usually needed, just to cover all angles. Maybe that's why I became a Monica - 150% of everything and a plan B, C and D in place in case something goes wrong.
Given that, it seems that the whole embarrassment thing has had something good coming out of it after all! Although I'm encountering one tiny hiccup now. Publishing this site bares risks I can't cover. All of a sudden I'm spreading my wings and pushing boundaries.
And again, it might be a good thing that I'm trained in 'Embarrassment'. I hope that I won't push too far. However, it'll be interesting to see how 'stretchy' my environment is, and how much of the pre-emptive action taken in the past I could have saved myself.
But now, let's not look back, let's laugh a bit more often. Laugh wins trust - laugh at a child, a cat or a dog. The child will stop crying, the cat will start winking and the dog will start wagging the tail. Laughing is universal and even crosses the boundaries of species.
If we all laugh a bit more, negative emotions won't be an issue anymore - because the world will be a much happier place.