I can remember an influential teacher from my high school giving us some advice that I hope I never will forget. He said that one of the most important skills that we can learn is to laugh at ourselves. I worked to develop this skill while in high school and into my early adulthood. Fairly early on I realized how silly I could be, the amusement of my mistakes, and the importance of not taking things too seriously.
While I have developed my clinical skills and worked with many clients, I have noticed how much of an issue lacking this skill can be. Relationships can be lost because if we take things too personal. People become depressed because they obsessively think about a past mistake. Others will avoid situations out of the fear that they will embarrass themselves or make a mistake.
The problem that laughing at yourself counteracts is pride. Our pride can get us into so much trouble. We can get too focused on what it is that we are trying to say and forget to listen to the other person. We can over-estimate our importance in the world and think that all eyes are on us. We may avoid certain situations because we worry about being embarrassed or rejection.
I will often push my clients to assess what I call the “so what? factor”. Being somewhat embarrassed shows that you respect others in social settings. Too much of it shows that you treat life like you are walking across a stage, and everyone is watching. We only view the world through our own lens. This lens is obviously a personal one. We often can forget that others do not view the world through the same lens. Most people will not likely notice if you do something embarrassing unless you are largely in the public eye. And even then we people will often forget about an embarrassing moment and move on without much thought.
So learn to laugh at yourself. What do others find funny about the situation? Realize that if you make a mistake, it is not likely one that can’t be learned from. Realize how ridiculous we all get at times. We overact, we make mistakes, and we learn from this. Enjoy your humanness and laugh!