I recently bought a book about social anxiety and it suggested deliberately doing embarrassing things to become accustomed to them and not worry about making a fool of yourself any more.  This was not a new idea to me; one of the mussar yeshivot (rabbinical seminaries focusing on ethical self-improvement), I think Novaradok, used to send its students on pointless errands where people would laugh at them (e.g. asking for eggs in a hardware store) so that they would learn that self-esteem comes from within, not from what others think of you.

I need to hold on to this.  Tomorrow, I am likely to be humiliated.  The person doesn’t mean to humiliate me, but he’s going to.  I can’t really go into more detail now, but my comment on this post might give some idea of what I’m currently going through.  The rabbis say embarrassment is like death, to the point where being embarrassed atones for sins for which you deserved to die.  I would say I hope the sins were worth it, but I don’t joke about things like that.  If I messed up, I deserve to suffer.  But I can’t say I relish the thought.

If I can’t be happy, why can’t I be neutral?  Why do I have to be depressed, anxious, lonely and despairing all the time?  Can’t I just be neither happy nor unhappy?  Not befriended and loved, but not cripplingly lonely?  And free of the periodic humiliations heaped on the sufferers of social anxiety?

I don’t have ideas above my station.  I don’t want to marry some impossibly good looking, perfectly kind, unbearably holy woman.  I just want to meet someone like myself.  Someone with flaws, but nice and pleasant who likes me as much as I like her.  I don’t know why this is so hard.

(Ugh, I just called myself “nice and pleasant”.  I’ll let that go for now.)

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2 thoughts on “Humiliations

  1. This reminds me of the exposure theory in Oliver Burkeman’s book, Antidote. He talks about travelling on the train and saying the name of each station out loud before the train arrives at the station. While the thought of doing this in public may sound embarrassing, he found that it is not as bad as he thought it would be. Everytime I did something embarrassing myself, I’d think about this. Best of luck!!! 🙂

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