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Embarrassment

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How to Make an Ass of Yourself in One Easy Step

www.bethanyo.com-1.jpg
www.bethanyo.com-1.jpg

In addition to being the only person I've ever known to use the word "whence" in spoken conversation, my ninth grade english teacher also wins the superlative for Person In Life Most Likely to Tell Me What Happens when You Assume.

[In case you are one of the lucky ones who has never heard this play on words, the answer is:  "You make an 'ass' out of '-u' and '-me.']

I've never much liked that expression, mostly because it is typically said rather asstasticly.  Irony makes me cough.

Nevertheless, apparently this saying is something I should be keeping in mind from time to time always.  Like when I email someone and they don't respond so I assume they have a problem with me.  Or when, hypothetically, I call a producer at Harpo studios to ask whether I am correct in deducing that I have been cut from Oprah's Life Class and I don't hear back so I ASSUME that I my conclusions are correct.

HYPOTHETICALLY, I might make an ass of myself if I were to do THAT, for instance.

My friends:  you can believe people when they tell you that these interwebs are capable of spreading information far and wide.  Because somehow or other, my post titled "Things I Learned about Embarrassment by Being Cut From Oprah's Lifeclass" found its way all the way to Chicago, of all places.  And the good people at Harpo studios were kind enough to call me after they read that post to inform me that in the end, I HAD, in fact, been on Oprah's Lifeclass.  They also very kindly explained the source of my confusion.

I tell you what.  It's a good thing I recently analyzed my thoughts on embarrassment because I am finding myself experiencing new heights of this emotion.

[Sigh.]

[Le sigh again.]

[Lamaze.]

Ah, well!  I have resolved myself to grow from all uncomfortable situations, and this I shall do again!

I am writing today's post because I realize I made a mistake and I want to apologize for unintentionally misrepresenting the facts.  My heart sinks knowing that I may have inadvertently painted someone I admire (Oprah, and her team) in a negative light, when my intentions were only positive and growth-minded.  

Oh, LIFE!!  Thank you for your cockameemee ways of helping me to grow!

Now the question is:  what do I take from this?  How do I use this situation to make myself wiser in the future?

Do I use this as proof that it is dangerous for me to stick my neck out there, and that in the future I should play things safe so as to not risk more public embarrassment?

That's the tempting response, but it's also the cowardly one.  It's the voice of Resistance.

If I were to allow this embarrassing mistake to fuel my self-doubt, thereby smothering my optimism, my courage, or my eagerness to grow, then a piece of my soul would die.

I would not be letting myself shine.

A better response is to see this as proof that despite how f-ing hard I try otherwise, I am GOING to make mistakes.  AND THANK GOODNESS FOR IT, because this is the quickest way for me to grow.

If we handle them right, mistakes are the fast lane towards becoming our best selves.  

Lesson numero dos here is the awareness that I jump to negative conclusions WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT.  There was no doubt in my mind that we had been cut from that Oprah episode; you can bet your booty that, otherwise, I never would have written that post.

If I'm not AWARE of when I'm making assumptions, how often am I basing my emotions on negative speculation?  How much good energy is going up in smoke due to PHANTOM problems??

My guess would be:  a LOT of it.  OFTEN.

I think what went wrong here was that I allowed my desire for growth to outpace my optimism.  I was a bit overzealous about making lemonade from lemons when in fact I did not have lemons at all.

Next time I think I am about to receive a shipment of lemons, I should consider that maybe the fruit truck is actually on its way to deliver APPLES!  And then, wouldn't I feel like a fool when I set up my lemonade stand and the truck delivers APPLES!

I disagree with my english teacher:  making assumptions isn't the problem.  Making NEGATIVE assumptions:  that's the problem.  Jack Canfield had it right when he told us to become inverse paranoids, assuming at every turn that the world is plotting to serve, enrich, and empower us.

A widespread inverse paranoid movement sure would relieve our world of some serious asstasticness.

So perhaps Oprah WILL eventually dub me "the AH-HA Maven" after all.

My wager?

Highly likely.

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Things I Learned about Embarrassment by Getting Cut from Oprah's Lifeclass

Bethany Owen Oprah's Lifeclass.jpg
Bethany Owen Oprah's Lifeclass.jpg

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Edited to Add:  Please note that this post is not entirely accurate.  In the end, we actually WERE on Oprah's Lifeclass:  you can read more about that in the post titled "How to Make an Ass of Yourself in One Easy Step."  

I apologize for my inaccuracy.  

I've elected to keep this post on my blog anyway because I've received many emails from lovely readers telling me this is inspiring them.  

In light of the ADDITIONAL embarrassment I felt when I found out that we ultimately WERE on the show, I stand by everything I wrote about that emotion in this post, and I hope this continues to inspire.

***

Let's cut right to the chase, shall we?  Last Thursday, just hours before Oprah's groundbreaking interview with Lance Armstrong aired, Harpo producers cut an interview featuring my husband and me from Oprah's Lifeclass show with Dr Gary Chapman.

As a result, Ms Winfrey "missed her one big chance to make it big."

That's my dad's opinion, anyway.  His text telling me so helped me pull my head out from under the covers of my Chicago hotel room.

Because it's important to be humble when you are about to be discovered by Oprah, I didn't tell many people that we had been interviewed for a testimonial segment of Oprah's Lifeclass episode with Dr Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages.

Keeping mum was also a tactical face-saving technique, in the unlikely event that my sexy-assed "AH-HA"-inducing intellectual wit didn't shine through on camera.  If I came across as a bumbling idiot, I could just yawn and claim the interview meant nothing to me.

But I think I have Truth-Telling Tourette's Syndrome (a term which, incidentally, is completely fabricated) because I'm about to tell you exactly how excited I was for this opportunity, even though said excitement has the potential to now be very embarrassing, considering how things actually transpired.

Upon receiving the initial phone call from Harpo about this opportunity, my first thought was, logically, "O to the M to the F to the G.  This manifestation sh*t really DOES work."

You see, I had recently set the intention that I want to use my personal challenges (and triumphs) to help others by 1) destigmatizing mental health counseling and 2) sharing the tools that have helped me surmount anxiety and depression.  Then HARPO called to ask if I wanted to go on OPRAH to discuss my relationship CHALLENGES and how I've OVERCOME them.

Kay.  Clearly I have extra-special manifestation powers because most people have to wait a long time for opportunities such as this.

Since the universe was making it so clear that it wanted me to share my message on this global stage, my predictable conclusion was that, while laughing with our shoes off post-filming, Oprah would dub me "The AH-HA Maven," after which I would explode in popularity, exponentially increasing my contribution to humanity.  Our children would grow up in a healthier world and my cup of Importance would overflow indefinitely.

This is a lot for one person to process so quickly.  How would I maintain my private life amongst all the fame?

Shockingly, though, my prediction wasn't precisely accurate.  After Husband and I rearranged our schedules and invested our pennies to fly to Chicago for the taping, we waited six hours at Harpo Studios to NOT be told that we had been cut from the show; we devised that conclusion based on our own observations.

Aint no business like show business, babies.

As I type this in retrospect, there's evidence to suggest that maybe there were some delusions of grandeur at play here.  Maybe I misinterpreted the universe's (and…ummm…Harpo's) reasons for inviting us to be involved in the show.

But am I embarrassed that my hopes were so high?

I'm glad you asked.  You know why this is an important question?  Because most people blame practicality as the reason they don't pursue their dreams, when really it's the fear of potential embarrassment that holds them back.  

So if I can unbuckle embarrassment and effectively render it incapable of affecting you for the rest of your days, maybe you will be more likely to brazenly pursue your own goals, yes?

Ask and ye shall receive, Love-Bugs.

Last night, Brian Johnson (I can't say enough good things about his en*theos Academy for Optimal Living) reminded me of Heidi Grant Halvorson's wisdom that there's an important distinction between a "Be Good" mindset, where you are trying to PROVE yourself, and a "Get Better" mindset, where you are trying to IMPROVE yourself.

That insight provided the spotlight for my AH-HA moment regarding how to dismember embarrassment:

Before I share this new understanding with you, can we first agree on a definition for embarrassment?  We feel embarrassed when we perceive that others are judging us negatively, correct?

Agreed.

For instance.  If I were embarrassed to share that I thought I was about to become Oprah's BFF, my discomfort would stem from the fear that others might conclude that I'm conceited or deluded or both, right?  Or, worse:  they could use my NOT making the cut as evidence that I am incapable of achieving my unconventional dreams, couldn't they?

But is my intention to PROVE myself, or is it to IMPROVE myself?

My goal is to IMPROVE myself, obviously!  (Except for those times when I blog to PROVE that I'm IMPROVING, but shut your pretty traps about that, Young Whippersnappers!)

Do you see the gloriousness of the PROVE vs IMPROVE mindsets now, friends?  The IMPROVE mindset makes it IMPOSSIBLE to experience embarrassment while pursuing one's dreams because a genuine desire to improve oneself--combined with morals and will-power--inoculates you from judgement.  

Who judges an eager student for making a mistake?

No one with any courage of their own, that's who.

[Yoo hoo!  It's also worth mentioning that we only fear judgment when we judge ourselves.  But when we align with our highest selves--our truths--even the most self-critical among us (my hand is raised) know in our hearts that we have nothing to prove.]

Arguably, if judgement is the cause of embarrassment, and nobody with a warm pulse would judge someone who is earnestly trying to improve, then the only justifiable cause for embarrassment regarding one's dreams is the act of NOT pursuing them. 

I'll be sure to mention this the next time I'm on Oprah.

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Despite (or maybe because of) how things turned out, I'm very grateful for this experience.  I learned so much, and it was special to experience Oprah from a distance of 15 feet:  she radiates love and approachability.  I think she'll do just fine without having us on the Gary Chapman episode.

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If there were no potential for embarrassment, would you find a way to pursue your dreams?

I love to hear from you!

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