Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Spinach Affair

You smile. You laugh. You talk. Then, you go to the washroom and you are no longer smiling, much less laughing! You want to find the emergency exit now, please!

Yup, we've all been there. You have discovered that you have spinach in your teeth!

How am I going to tie this in with stress, you wonder? To quote one of our more illustrious Prime Ministers, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, "Just watch me!"

After the initial wave of embarrassment has passed, you question why someone wouldn't tell you? Here are 3 possible reasons:

1. There's a perverse (or is it reverse?) kind of thinking that happens when we tell someone that they are doing something that could embarrass them. They feel self-conscious because they may have caused you to feel abashed.

Being in a socially awkward situation can cause our body to respond with a range of physical and chemical changes that may include blushing, increased heart rate and a change in blood pressure.

We learn at a young age that certain societal mistakes are unacceptable and cause for embarrassment. In the future, when we find ourselves in a similar situation, the amygdala remembers & broadcasts a stress alert. Preparing for flight, fight or freeze, our body goes through the same physiological and chemical changes as was experienced during the initial event.

The person who chose not to tell you about the spinach may be reliving their own embarrassing situation and reacting to that, as opposed to acting in a more reasonable and considerate manner.

2. They just didn't notice. Mismanaged emotions can paralyze us and stress can cause us to view life as if we were looking through the broad end of a funnel. We simply don't see because of cortical inhibition. In other words, the signals that are sent from the heart to the brain become disordered, leading to less-than-optimal functioning. (It's the difference between running your Porsche on low-grade vs. high-grade fuel. Or, coffee from the cafeteria vs. your local Starbucks!)

3. They just don't care. When we're stressed, we lose the genuine capacity to care, whether it be for ourselves, our family or those around us. We have nothing left to give, as we have been depleted by the relentless adaptations we've made to stress.

Yes, I agree, I did take liberties in the hopes that you'll remember that stress does have tentacles that squeeze into your everyday lives.

Finally, a suggestion for you, my spinach-loving friends. In the words of a principal who once kindly told me that I had apple on my nose, "Hey, better me telling you than those gr. 7 students out there!"

When you look at it from a different perspective, it is easy to turn your embarrassment into gratitude. Ahhhh, that's better. Now you can enjoy your day with a smile on your face and laughter in your heart.

Care to share?

5 comments:

  1. I find that, if the other person telling me acts embarrassed, I feel embarrassed. If they don't, I'm much less likely to.

    The men's usual problem is with the pants fly. Then the inevitable, "Oh, Lord, it's been down for the past 1 1/2 hours. And I just addressed the Rotary..."

    I mean, I've read this happens to some guys.

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  2. Hi Marianna, Thanks for dropping in on my blog and inviting me here. Best thing to have happened to me this week end!

    Yes, our mutual friend Conrad is doing a good job expanding the net work.

    I have just caught up with your back posts for this year and am happy to have found you.

    With particular reference to your topic on this post, I hardly ever feel stressed. I specialize in giving stress to others!! Or at least I used to be told that I did. I am now in blissful retirement and if you had read my post on getting to know me, you would have seen my current occupation as that of a retired hippy.

    Having said that, let me compliment you on a very well thought out and structured post. As I go along, I shall link your site to others in need of such guidance too.

    I have another blogger friend, Jerry who led me to a fantastic book called The Imposter Syndrome by John Graden which talks about our sense of inadequacy leading to stress. I am one of those compulsive book buyer/reader who just has to buy a book if some one talks or blogs about it. So, now in my golden years, I can find the time to indulge in my weakness.

    You can expect to see more of me on your blog and I am sure that you will inspire me to contribute via comments.

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  3. Come on Conrad, this has just happened to others?

    Why do I find it so difficult to believe?

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  4. Hi

    Loved your post as it gave me a different perspective of the spinach matter. The photo was awesome!

    Padmini Natarajan

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  5. Conrad, seems we all have "a friend" who does something embarrassing from time to time. In most cases, it's only the "friend" who remembers. May as well fohgitaboutit!

    Rummuser, thank you for your very kind words of encouragement. Also, for adding to my reading list.

    I agree that when we feel inadequate we feel stressed which makes us feel more inadequate and so-on. Letting our heart lead allows us to be at our best & when that happens inadequacies drop away.

    Glad that you're enjoying your retirement!

    Padmini Thanks to you for taking the time to comment & providing me with further encouragement!

    Getting that picture was an exercise in patience. That's a post I'll save for another day! :)

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Welcome! I know your life is busy. That's why I appreciate your stopping by to comment.