Monday’s Meditation: On Why You Need To Stop Fessing Up To Your Flaws
Despite endless evidence to the contrary, we still seem slow to grasp the fact that no one is paying as much attention to us as we’re paying to ourselves.
So, with the exception of the most enlightened individuals in our society, most of us still devote considerable amount of time to feeling deeply embarrassed and self-conscious.
We say something in a social gathering and later crucify ourselves for our word choice, our poor timing, our failed attempt at a joke. God, why did I have to say that? Why couldn’t I just have kept my mouth closed??
We put a picture of ourselves or our home or our work on social media, and terribly aware of the flaws, we feel obliged to point them out to everyone. It’s as if we’re saying: I know you’re going to notice this glaring error. I don’t want you to think I’m not aware of it. And, I don’t want you to think I think you’re not going to notice it!
So, I’ll just do us all a favor and caption the image:
“Look how pretty my bookshelves look! (Just ignore the ugly bunch of cords in the corner.)”
“I made this cake myself! (And yes, before you point it out, I know I should have done a crumb-coating. Oops.)”
“PAY NO ATTENTION TO MY UGLY TOES.”
We just can’t risk it. We can’t risk not pointing out what is so painfully obvious to us, for fear of what they’ll think otherwise.
(That we don’t know better.)
(That we would deign to think that flaw we’re highlighting isn’t something we ought to feel terribly embarrassed about.)
Of course, when we do, we dictate that the first, and maybe only, things people see are:
Your toes, and whether or not they’re ugly.
The cords in the corner.
The crumbs on your cake.
I did this just last Thursday, when I begged your forgiveness for the non-professional photos included in the post. Now, would you have noticed if I had said nothing about the image quality at all? Perhaps. But does it matter?
There are a couple of reasons why anticipatory embarrassment deflecting is about the dumbest strategy we refuse to quit using.
Firstly, it is our job to put our best selves forward, to present ourselves with grace. No one can or will do this for us.
If we want to be perceived as beautiful and intelligent, the greatest technique we might employ is to be that! To Simply put our authentic selves and lives into the world.
The information that we give others is all they know. If we divulge our many “obvious” weaknesses, mistakes, and flaws to others, we completely undermine our goal, which is to be wholly accepted, rather than scrutinized, bit by bit. We actually force others to take note of all that we find less than about ourselves.
The more troublesome aspect of all this isn’t even our clumsy attempt to ward off embarrassment. It’s that we believe there is embarrassment in our humanity to be warded off, in the first place.
When we apologize for what we look like or the things we say; when we draw awareness to our shortcomings and the places in our professional or home life that still need work, we attempt to excuse our imperfections. We suggest that to be caught having put our imperfections on display is to somehow have grievously erred.
Except, we all have at least one funky looking toe.
We’re all amateurs at something.
And lord knows–we all have cords coming out of every which corner of our homes.
The biggest laugh is that everyone else is far too busy worrying about whether we’re noticing their flaws to notice ours, and we’re too busy being aware of ours to notice theirs.
And the even bigger laugh is that if what we fear most happens–that others notice our embarrassments–life goes on. No one is shocked. No one even mentions it! No one else expects the level of perfection from others that they do from themselves.
You might get home tonight and discover you had a chia seed in your teeth since breakfast. You might fart in the board meeting. You might send an email with a typo or post a photo of a work in progress.
And guess what? That’ll be totally okay. And your secret will be safe with you. No one will have noticed anyway.
Go on, be your imperfect self. Get it over with already. There’ll be no recovering the farce once it’s blown, and that’ll be heavenly.
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