For decades I dressed and undressed without incident.
Whatever underwear was within reach went on before clothes and the clothes came off in no particular order before the underwear.
Until that fateful day.
Getting ready one morning I noticed feeling panicky gross inside and desperately wanting to run away.
Or at least shrink into the walls.
But where do you go if you’re already in the closet?
What. The. Frick!?
How could I possibly feel so incredibly embarrassed putting clothes on for the gazillionth time?
A memory flashed to mind.
Many weeks earlier I’d been watching As Time Goes By, a favourite British comedy.
In one particular scene, Lionel was growing weary listening to his can’t-get-a-word-in-edgewise assistant Mrs. Flack.
As Mrs. Flack prattles on about her husband, she reveals he is often found wearing nothing but his socks.
Lionel’s eyes couldn’t roll any further back in his head while the laugh track grew louder and harder.
Clearly, hubby was made out to be a socially clueless joke.
The pieces fell into place.
Feeling panicky gross I looked down to see myself standing wearing nothing but socks.
(My apologies should that fall into the realm of too much information.)
Apparently, I unwittingly became a socially clueless joke too.
Bless my brain.
For all this time it had been silently standing guard, protecting against ostracization for a mere faux pas of hosiery.
I can laugh now, but the feeling is no less strong or compelling.
Even fully aware of the circumstances, when socks manage to be the only item of clothing at the time, embarrassment rises swiftly to the fore.
Observing these moments has become somewhat of curiosity, a reason to explore feeling two emotions at once along with if and how the sensation has changed.
Others aren’t so curious.
The fear of being embarrassed is strong.
After all, it was a way to ensure survival and continue to be part of our group.
Stay in line and all will be fine.
I’ve seen people frozen in their present, unable to step out and take a new path they so desperately desire.
All from the mere possibility of feeling embarrassed.
Whether or not they remember an incident from back when is irrelevant.
The sensations are real enough.
Like foreboding signals of what might happen ahead.
Only there’s no room made for the alternative of what also might happen.
The exhilaration and joy of making a dream come true or the deep sense of peace from being yourself.
What I’ve learned from observing my socked moments and a lifetime of embarrassing moments
– the feelings don’t necessarily go away, but they don’t have to control me.
And believe me, this brain knows the sure-fire triggers to bring on instant panic to flee.
But by not running away or pushing the feelings aside, the emotion lessens.
Space opens up to see more clearly what’s going on and to choose differently.
Practice being embarrassed and funny things just might happen.
What sorts of reactions do you have to embarrassing situations?
feel free to share
chief nudging officer
Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.