OVERTHINKING THOSE AWKWARD MOMENTS
Have you ever said something awkward to a friend, acquaintance or coworker and you later wondered why you said it? You may go over and over the conversation in your head, beating yourself up, wondering why you said that, thinking about all the ways what you said is going to be interpreted, and how it will affect your life. You keep torturing yourself by reliving the moment while you’re lying in bed, working out at the gym, or even when you’re watching a movie. You wonder what you could have done differently to avoid the awkward moment or social misstep.
Dwelling on Social Missteps
If you experienced what I just described, you are not alone. Even worse, when you live in a city like NY, you are constantly meeting new people on a daily basis and placed in social situations that you may not necessarily want to be in, whether it’s buying a late-night bag of chips at the corner bodega, or waiting in line for your coffee early in the morning. When we are placed in an abundance of social contexts throughout the day, cringe-worthy or socially awkward encounters are bound to happen. Most of us beat ourselves up over trivial encounters that went unnoticed by others. For whatever reason, these memories manage to resurface in our minds throughout the day, or even throughout the years, and they torment us. More often than not, these encounters happened so long ago that nobody but you even remembers them.
“Cringe Attacks” And How to Get Rid of Them
In Melissa Dahl’s book “Cringeworthy,” Dahl examines the science of awkwardness in everyday life. She refers to awkward memories that torment us as “cringe attacks.” To overcome these cringe attacks, Dahl suggests thinking about what else was going on in the moment when you felt awkward, the non-emotional details of the memory. For example, like what you were eating that day instead of what you were saying. https://www.businessinsider.com/awkward-moments-psychology-stop-replaying-2018-8 Another tactic is to simply think about what you could have done worse in the situation – and maybe your actions won’t seem all that cringe worthy!
When thoughts of the embarrassing moment arise, it’s important that you don’t suppress these memories. Trying to forget these moments and push those cringe attacks aside will likely lead to more anxiety down the road. If you’re having difficulty focusing on the non-emotional details of the awkward moment, you may want to ask yourself what you can learn from the encounter. Asking yourself questions about what you did to make the situation awkward, what you might do next time to prevent the awkward encounter, or what you could say in the future when you’ve put yourself in the awkward moment. Attempting to learn from your mistake will make you feel better about having committed the awkward act in the first place because it becomes a path for self-improvement.
Once you have relived the awkwardness of the moment and tried to learn from it, it is now time to move on and fill your day with positive thoughts. You punished yourself enough! You are entitled to do something fun and refocus your energy on more enjoyable activities that make you feel good.