There have been times, both in the recent past and even further back, when I found myself cringing over a particularly embarrassing memory. Why, oh why did I say such-and-such a thing? What was I thinking when I did that? Logic couldn’t explain what had gone wrong on those occasions so all my attempts to somehow “think” the situation out just didn’t work. It made me wonder if somewhere in my brain, the wiring just wasn’t right and I was destined to encounter these goof-ups all throughout life.
Being red-faced and embarrassed over past incidents, especially those that led on to other incidents, can really get you down. If it was a certain person you said something to, it will keep coming back to you every time you meet that person. Sure, it might be long forgotten and everyone’s now cool with it, but you always wonder how your words or behavior at that particular incident may have molded a different image in the opposite person’s mind… forever!
It was pretty awkward for me to recall those times when I acted in an unusual way or said something I regretted later, so much so that I began to just block them out of my mind. However, one day I set out to find a real answer: what made me act so uncharacteristically at certain times, with certain people? How could I be totally relaxed and confident with a certain set while become a social klutz with some others? I could be myself, laugh and make others laugh, joke around, speak my mind with people I was okay with while with others, whatever the reason, I made blunders, said odd things and later wanted to bang my head on something, wishing for an “undo” button!
But today, I have an answer. Alhamdulillah, finally, finally, finally… I know what triggers my “clumsy” trait. It’s my heart. Yes, it all begins with the heart! The very reason I sometimes make mistakes in my dealings with people is that, in one way or another, they hold a special position in my eyes. They’re people I like, admire, those who inspire me, those I’d like to learn from and to please… basically, people who matter most to me. And that’s where I mess up: trying to do things the “right” way with these people, I try too hard and trip over my feet!
There you have it. It doesn’t sound as bad as it did before this explanation emerged. I know the popular belief is that you should be able to really be yourself around people you really care for. However, I feel that comes at a later stage, when you know the other person so well that you can anticipate the situation and say things or act accordingly, all from your own heart. But before that, when you don’t even know what makes someone happy or what irritates them, you naturally tend to be careful with every step you take… and that’s where being extra careful can backfire!
Perhaps the take-home message here is that whatever you do, if you do it with a sincere intention and you really care for someone, those blotch-ups won’t stand in the way of a lasting relationship. If you’ve gone and said something that really irked a friend without your intending so, swallow your ego, apologize and look ahead. It’s hard but worse than what you did is to give yourself a harder time over an innocent mistake. Maybe you made a really stupid remark about politics in front of an elderly relative or spoke out of turn in a specific social setting. Maybe you tried too hard to make a new friend and made weird conversation. It can all be cleared up if you forgive yourself first.
Knowing this now, I realize that you should always be yourself, as much as possible, even with people with whom you want to be extra careful about your words and deeds. If other regular people in your life are easy to get along with and you sail through your relationships with them, is it not possible that those extra special to you might like the same version of you? Calm and confident, pleasant, easy-going, flexible… the YOU that YOU are!
That’s my heartfelt intention, that’s the way I’m going to operate now on, Insha’Allah, as much as I can.