I recently discovered quite by accident the power of laughter to help erase that awful tendency of the mind to dredge back up those painful, embarrassing moments when you think you might die. The very worst moments may require laughing quite hard with really trusted friends and loved ones on more than one occasion. But it is quite remarkable how it just removes the thorn and the poison from the wound.
Perhaps all you wise readers out there knew this long ago. If so, I am sorry to waste your time. I actually heard something to this effect twenty years ago. But it was not quite the same thing and I certainly did not process it the same way. When I went to my first AALL, the speaker at CONNELL (program for newer law librarians) was Bob Berring. He told us that his uncle always said, "Whatever doesn't kill you, makes a darned good story." This is almost but not quite what I am talking about. It does explain a lot about how fearless Bob always was in his career; how he could just try things and not be afraid of failing or embarrassing himself. He actually had this method down from the start, I guess.
In fact, I only need this for extreme embarrassment situations. Like the other day, teaching in front of my class. I laughed in an explosive way at something, and out exploded an audible fart. OOOH, talk about dying a thousand deaths. Nobody really reacted, so I can hope that the laugh actually covered everything. But still, sheesh! It's very hard to carry on, and to go back and face a class if you have a dialog in your mind about what people are thinking about YOU!
My miraculous discovery was that by telling my husband and laughing with him about it; And then calling a dear friend and telling her and laughing with her about it; Now the thorn is drawn from my mind. And I hope there will be no poison festering there. So the next time I stand in front of that class, I won't be worrying about anything but teaching (I hope!).
Ordinarily, it's enough for me to tell myself that nobody else but me is worrying over X (my uneven hem, my smudged glasses, my mis-spoken word). And that usually is enough for me to let go of worries about what other people think of me. It probably doesn't matter if it's true, either. The other thing I tell myself is that if they are worrying about it, they need to get a life!
This wonderful poster of Androcles pulling the thorn out of the lion's paw is from posters created by the WPA project in the USA for a play written by George Bernard Shaw, with a Black production.