If you are like most of us in this world, then you probably go out of your way to avoid embarrassment. Maybe it takes the form of avoiding all Karaoke sing-alongs, or perhaps it is to eschew public speaking altogether. For some it may manifest in a general aversion to situations that are new or are out of our control.
Whatever the case, this behavior contributes to a general assumption of who we are and what our place is in this world. We want desperately to believe that we are in control of how we are perceived, and that belief (or that delusion) keeps us from experiencing ourselves in a fuller or richer way. What does this mean?
If we can agree that the success of our work depends on our ability to feel more connected to ourselves and to others, then anything that we do to try to “hide” or control how we see will create a barrier. When I coach people to understand how to have deeper connections and communicate more clearly, one of the key elements that we focus on is their assumption about what they can and can’t do, as well as their assumptions about how they will be perceived by others.
The less space you have internally, the less space there is out there for others to receive you. The more that you try to avoid embarrassment, the more likely that people will be responding to your guarded self and not to your true self.
In other words, the more guarded you are around others, the more guarded they will be with you.
Think of this as an actor does. As Sir John Gielgud once said, “Acting is half-shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself.”
It is in this forgetting that we find freedom and when we are rewarded with a deeper understanding of ourselves in this world. The freedom to let go of the expectation that we can control how we are seen or that we even should control it, is not only glorious for us as individuals, but for those with whom we want to have a connection.
The secret to feeling empowered and to empowering others, the key to becoming clearer about who we are and what value we have to offer is in our willingness to be embarrassed, to be revealed and to be seen.
The more we do that with a kind heart, the more space we can have internally and the more open we will seem to the people around us.