Do you ever feel really embarrassed by the actions of other people close to you?
I used to get really embarrassed, so much that my face would get hot and I’d want to totally disappear. And not so much, now. Like yesterday I was heading out the door with my partner for our daily walk, and he had a huge hole in his sweater. I used to find that really embarrassing! But yesterday, I thought, “Who cares, really? And he loves that sweater!” You know?
I love how things that have embarrassed us for years can change. And when they do, in a way, the whole world changes.
In this episode of Inner Peace for Challenging Times, you’ll hear about my student May was able to transform old feelings of embarrassment and humiliation into understanding and an increased sense of inner peace.
My student, May, is a great example of this. She’s been married to a sweet guy for about ten years. They’ve had many nice times together. But recently in a class with me, when I asked the group to think of a time when they were embarrassed by another person, an incident from early in their relationship came into May’s mind. From more than ten years ago!
It was when she introduced her prospective husband to her family. That’s a potentially stressful situation for everyone! May wanted it to go well, and she wanted her boyfriend to be on his best behavior so her family would like him. But instead of being his charming self, he got completely quiet. Like he just shut down.
And May felt SO embarrassed! Like he just wasn’t cooperating. He wasn’t showing his best side, and she just wanted to sink into the ground. They got past it, of course… and everyone is friendly now… But it’s very interesting that this incident was still bothering May so much that it’s what came to mind when I asked people to think of a time when someone upset them.
The next step in the exercise was to acknowledge the part of you that felt that way, using the language, “I am sensing something in me…”.
So May said, “I am sensing something in me felt really embarrassed.” She inwardly turned toward the part of her that felt that way. She put a hand on her heart, bringing compassion to herself.
And the feeling got stronger! The message came from inside: “Not just embarrassed, humiliated! Something in me felt totally humiliated!” She let it know she heard it.
She didn’t try to change the feeling. She heard it… as strong as it was. “Yes, you felt totally humiliated!”
And it changed! It relaxed! As if this feeling had been waiting more than ten years to finally be recognized and acknowledged. Wow.
What can happen when we acknowledge our feelings exactly as they are, as strong as they are, is like a miracle. I’ve seen this happen so many times.
And this time was no exception. May could feel her body relaxing, as if the feeling of embarrassed and humiliated was grateful to be heard. And then, something really amazing…
Suddenly, for the first time, May could see meeting her family from her husband’s point of view. She could get how overwhelming that must have been for him. “No wonder he shut down,” she found herself thinking. “My family can be a bit much at first.”
I mean, to you and me, that seems obvious, right? Poor guy! But that’s what happens when we get taken over by emotional reactions. We can’t see the situation objectively. We can’t see the other person’s point of view. We might know that we ought to, but we just can’t!
But as soon as May was able to acknowledge the part of her feeling embarrassed and humiliated by the way her future husband behaved that night, the feelings began to shift… and that opened up the possibility of truly seeing things from a larger perspective than just her own.
I really love this. It even gets me thinking about how the world might change if we could see each others’ point of view more often.
But here’s the thing:
The way to get there is not to tell ourselves “You should walk in the other person’s shoes.” The way to get there is to compassionately and sincerely acknowledge our own feelings.
The rest of it follows from there!
So remember: acknowledging means saying “I am sensing something in me feels this way… and I am here with that.” Simple and beautiful!
Do you want even more support in trying steps like these? I’d love to have you sign up for my weekly email newsletter here. You’ll get helpful tips (like this one) that can make a huge difference for you….
What were those three steps again?
ONE: Remember a time you were upset or embarrassed by another person.
TWO: Say “I’m sensing something in me felt…”
THREE: Acknowledge how it is/was from ITS point of view.
So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.