We all try to live a balanced and wholesome life. None of us walk through each day thinking that we will do half our best to be ourselves – and part of that is being proud of who we are. When we behave in a way that doesn't feel like our best, it reflects on our pride and confidence in who we are, and we start thinking – "oh, why did I do that!" or "that wasn't like me at all!"
In this way, we are constantly trying to be represent our best self, to take pride in what we do and support ourselves confidently around our peers. When we have off days we take it to heart and tend to think about it too much. It distracts us for the rest of the day and bothers our mood.
I want to talk about quickly recovering from these moments; this is something that affects sensitive people the most. We've all done stupid things at parties and around people we shouldn't make faux-pas' around, but when we do something that doesn't feel like us in our day to day living, we tend to dwell on it – and we don't want to do that!
1. It's just a snapshot
When a manager walks by and berates and employee for, say, slacking off or playing on his phone, he is seeing a snapshot of the moment. He knows that the guy is a good employee and works the rest of the time, but simply caught him at a bad time – unfortunately, responsibility is responsibility and consequences are in effect.
For both people to leave without a bad taste in their mouth, they both must recognize the "snapshot" moment and leave it be. When we make a mistake in casual life around people, it's important for both parties to remember that it's just a snapshot. We all make mistakes. Sometimes it's relieving to see other people recognize this! No one is perfect all the time.
2. Keep learning about who you are
We change a lot throughout our lives, and it's a rather exciting thing! Scientist say that every 7 year cycle, all of our cells in our body have changed and been replaced by new ones including in our organs, our heart, or brain. They also say that we will change our jobs 7 times in our life…
What a great opportunity we have then, to continue to grow, evolve, and discover who we are, become better people, become better at who we are. When we make a social faux pas, we are not making any mistakes, we are just continuing our evolution as our own person. We are not born with a personality or identity – we grow into it slowly over time and through our environment. It's a pleasure to discover new things and new ways to be better at life.
3. Don't worry about what they think
We know that no one is perfect. Everyone slips all the time. Whether we live in a big city or small town, people and events occur around us at an alarming rate, all day long, and if someone wants to make a big deal about your behaviour, they can talk to you about it. The point is, don't worry about what other people think – let bygones be bygones and enjoy life. You know who you are best and if part of that is getting mixed up every now and then, so be it.
4. Find growth potential everywhere
Doing something strange is an opportunity to both make sure we don't do it again and also see what happens when we've already done it. Let's say you've had an awkward encounter at a line in a coffee shop. You're too tired this morning and you've accidentally been cutting in line without realizing it. You wouldn't do that normally, but you haven't had your coffee yet! Say sorry and shake it off, then take note of people's reactions. It's a light example, but any opportunity for a little social anthropology is a chance to learn more about people's reactions and concerns, and how you can respond to it next time it happens to you.
5. Saving or losing face?
In many cultures in Asia, this type of situation is called saving or losing face. It is upholding your personal reputation to avoid shame or embarrassment. With this kind of culture in mind, it keeps the people from doing foolish things or things that might cause some loss of dignity.
In the western world then, perhaps we have a different approach to the topic. We are able to laugh off faux-pas, put things behind us and move on easily. Luckily for us, it means that if we're all on the same wavelength, we don't have to be as concerned about social anxiety! We are free to live our lives however we see fit and without such crippling concern about public shaming. So, enjoy the freedom and keep growing as a person!