Dear BoM: How to Deal with Inner Doubts

Are you heeding your inner voices?  Need some extra-emphatic advice?  We are here for you!  Send us your question so we can answer on the blog – benefit the entire world!  Like this brave soul, who asked us this question:

Dear Board of MisDirectors:

Sometimes when I’m in a social situation, I say or do something that, when I’m thinking about it later, I feel really embarrassed about, or worried what people will think about it.  I can spend hours thinking about something I said, trying to figure out how people reacted to it.  Then, I’m afraid to go out again, because I may do something that I end up worrying about.  It’s kind of paralyzing.  How can I get over this?

Thanks,
Worrying Myself Sick Over Nothing

Dear WM-SON,

We do not understand why you feel you are worrying over nothing.  Clearly, your inner voices – that is, us – are trying very hard to tell you that there is something to worry about!  If we are suggesting to you that you may have left, let us say, a poor impression, there’s a very good reason for it.  The question you should be asking is not how to get over this, but how to pay even more attention to it!  Here are a few suggestions for you.

  1. First and foremost, don’t let anything interfere.  Say you went to church or synagogue (or whatever) over the weekend, and you wake up Monday morning with the realization that you may have left the unfortunate impression that you were into group sex.  Don’t let your job get in the way of reflecting on this!  Call in sick!  (You probably feel ill, don’t you?)  You will need as much time as possible, because…
  2. The next most important thing is to review all of the conversations and interactions that both led to and resulted from this.  Don’t skimp!  Examine every single word that was said, every tone of voice, every expression on the faces of people you saw (whether or not they were looking at you!).  Every single little thing is filled with meaning – dark, ominous meaning.  It is critical that you catch every nuance!  Because…
  3. Your future behaviour around these people, and in fact everyone else as well, will be guided by what you learn from this.
    1. Ask yourself this: what critical yet irreparable flaw led you to make that mistake in the first place?  This is the flaw (well, one of the flaws) that you must in the future hide from EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.  You will need a strategy for this – could be anything from “don’t talk about farm animals anymore” to “never go out in public again”.
    2. Next, ask yourself what meanness or perversion in those other people could have led them to interpret your harmless (though really poorly phrased) remarks in that sick way.  Once you have at least one vaguely plausible answer to this, you’ll need another strategy for letting these people know you’re onto their game and think it (and they) are nothing more or less than despicable – though you will, of course, continue to talk with them as is your (fill in your religious persuasion) duty.

These are just a few starter suggestions.  There is so much more you can and should do with these kinds of situations.  As you see, they have the potential to be life-changing!  Paralysis is only the beginning!

Thanks for asking.

Your Board of MisDirectors.

Finding our advice helpful?  Of course you are!  
You can find more advice, related to topics such as dealing with rejection, cheating boyfriends, weight loss,
and so much more, in the archives of our advice column, Why Bother?

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