Making peace with embarrassment

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(Palm tree trunk)

We’re still in Luz so I’m getting comfortable here, starting to feel right at home… which means some of my old habits are popping up. (By the way, I’m working away happily on my book so that’s probably why I keep thinking of habits and beliefs.)

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(Lagos, old town)

So… one of my habits is, I see something I want to do but just before I do it, I think, “nooo, I would look stupid, much too embarrassing to do that!”  Then afterwards when I don’t do it I feel a bit miserable for not doing it. A bit of a misery cycle. This habit is masking a couple of beliefs. The one that stops me doing the thing I want to do: What other people think of me is important and it needs to be positive. And the one that makes me feel miserable when I don’t do it: Trying new things is really good for my healthA bit of a self-judgemental cycle.

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(Like blue sky)

At the same time I have returned to meditation, fifteen minutes every morning. And there’s something useful in the meditation practice that can help me untangle the misery and self-judgemental cycles. It’s about noticing whatever it is you’re feeling, just noticing, not thinking, just noticing… in your body. Not in your head, in your body. (Over emphasising might be a habit too?)

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(Blue water, blue boat, blue jacket, blue hat)

So… I’m practicing meditation on my embarrassment. Each day (since Monday) I do one thing that I know would cause me to feel embarrassed and I notice what that’s like. In. My. Body. Monday morning I went to the outdoor gym! I had been looking at the equipment since last Wednesday when we arrived, thinking that looks like fun! Then the misery/self-judgemental cycle began, so I didn’t dare. 

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(Boat for sale…)

But on Monday morning I got into my baggy pants and approached the gym area. Slowly. Giving me time to notice the embarrassment and I noticed it… but it was a bit different. Too late to turn back I arrived at the area and there’s another camper doing gym things (and doing them really well) smiling and saying hello. Having a lot of embarrassing thoughts now but remembering just in time to NOTICE IN MY BODY I squeak out, Hi, which one of these is good for a beginner?

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She is really friendly, Dutch or German I think and delighted to point me towards a swing-swong kind of thing and I start swinging and it is fun. So much so that I try a stand-up-rowing machine thing next but that’s a bit harder. Just as I start to feel stupid and think this is too hard I remember to NOTICE IN MY BODY and I slow down and it’s ok. Feeling embarrassed is actually ok… the thing that’s upsetting is the thinking about being embarrassed, the thinking about the people watching, the thinking about the people who are good at this fun thing. 

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(Rocks and sea at Luz… doesn’t it look like Greystones? Or does everything remind us of Ireland?)

Sooo, I’m stand-up-rowing with a smile on my face and a hello for all the people walking by and my new Dutch or German friend says, the hardest thing is to stop yourself competing with other people, just do your best. Well, wasn’t that lovely? I feel quite emotional all of a sudden. I’m rowing away and I’m thinking this embarrassment thing isn’t so bad. Then a group of six toned Swedish women jog past and I wave and nearly fall off my stand-up-rowing machine.

There should be a health warning on these machines, Mairead.