I don’t know about you but I beat myself up constantly. It’s become so typical, it’s a cliché. Only, it isn’t. It’s my life.
Now, I don’t beat myself up over everything. For the most part, I’m a pretty confident, chilled kinda gal. I don’t sweat much. Actually, I hate to sweat but that’s another story.
But the one thing that can send me into an insecurity tailspin is the ole social situation. Hey, this is a blog about introverts. Didn’t you expect that?
Anyhow, I realize, after reading a certain book that I mention below, that I engage in a type of mental violence toward myself after nearly every social encounter.
Wow. That’s powerful.
Let me set the scene: My son started on a new baseball team with new teammates for him and new baseball parents for me. Last night was his first game.
It was six o’clock in the evening. The bleachers were filling with supportive parents, grandparents and siblings. I greeted one couple that stood to the side. All started off well. Then I found a spot to sit and plopped down in the middle of folks I’d never met.
I wanted to be friendly. When a very nice lady introduced herself, I started talking.
Surrounded by a small group of people I didn’t know made me lose my grip. When this happens, the verbal onslaught ensues and I start sharing everything. I mean, everything.
The poor woman knows these things about me now: where I live, where my kids go to school, where they want to go to school, other teams my son plays for, my allergy problem, where I went to college, where I grew up, and on and on.
As I struggle to try to ‘fit in’ during these social times, I try too hard and my self-control begins to unravel.
This is so typical of me it’s not even funny.
Then I leave feeling like a complete fool…again. I replay scenes over and over in my head, chastising myself all the while.
Tomorrow I leave for a writers’ retreat. It’s three days, two nights of workshops, networking, pitching and all-around stimulation.
Oh boy. I have to start preparing now for how I’ll handle myself. These conferences completely overwhelm me, but I LOVE events like this. I just want to make sure I enjoy it and don’t undermine all the wonderful things that happen by spewing verbal tidal waves at people and then feeling so disgusted with myself that I don’t appreciate the amazing experience I just had.
So, what am I going to do?
For one thing, I’m doing yoga. I don’t have the attention-span for hour-long yoga, or the energy to go to a class full of dedicated yogis, so I do thirty minutes in my own home. I particularly like Clara Roberts-Oss. When she tells me to ‘sparkle out my beautiful fingers’, it makes me smile. You can find her bio here: http://lilavinyasa.com/ and her online videos via Gaiam here: http://www.gaiamtv.com/.
But there is more to my coping strategy and here is where I mention that book. I have started reading Cameron Alborzian’s The Guru in You. Even though I’ve had this book for a while, I have yet to move past the first three chapters. He shares such enlightening, life-changing advice that I want to make sure I fully put actions into place before moving on.
One of the most useful sections is the one on Mental Violence.
“Many times, when we’re under stress or feeling negative emotions, we may fill our heads with all sorts of mental violence.” An example of this can be taken from my story above. After the game, I went home berating myself up one side and down another, fretting over my lack of verbal control, what these parents must think of me, why I had to come across as so obnoxious…”
He suggests an exercise in the book of identifying these mental violence incidents and writing them down. When they next occur (for me, it’ll be during this conference or after it’s over and I’m struggling to come to terms over how abnormal I behaved), try to undermine it, or find an alternative focus. He suggests telling yourself, “There’s a better way.” This is to try to help us remove these negative (violent) thoughts from our heads. When you identify these harmful thoughts, use it as an opportunity to change the way you think. For me, it’s to change from self-deprecating thoughts to accepting, cherishing and appreciating the unique person that I am.
I strive to be gentle with myself; to allow my quiet self to shine while appreciating and cherishing those around me. I strive to leave a social situation without wave upon wave of regret, self-chastisement, and embarrassment. The social situation may not change, but how I view myself can.
You can find Cameron’s book on amazon and other fine retailers.