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  • Oftentimes, we feel flustered after messing up and ruminate over the self-perceived embarrassment or mistake.
  • However, more likely than not, those who witnessed the blunder either didn’t notice or don’t care about the blunder.
  • We need to remember that we’re our own worst critics and put things into perspective: whatever happened probably won’t matter in just a few minutes.
  • We can take additional actions to regain control when we feel flustered, such as taking a few deep breaths, relaxing our muscles, and throwing on a smile.

It’s true: we’re our own worst critics. We overanalyze everything that we do and ruminate over our embarrassment, our mistake, our foolishness. We make up our minds that everyone is gossiping and laughing and making fun… because we tripped or said something stupid. But in reality, they’ve probably already forgotten about what happened. Or they didn’t even notice the blunder in the first place. Remember this and tell your inner critic to take it down a notch! Psychotherapist Beth Burgess explains:

“People so often overanalyze what they’ve said or done and judge themselves too harshly. We are all human beings and make mistakes, and most people are more understanding of that than we imagine. Put things into perspective. Remember that whatever you said or did that you thought was foolish will probably not even matter 10 minutes later, and certainly won’t impact your life a month from now. Little screw-ups are rarely as serious as you think they are.”

Now, if you’re embarrassed or uneasy because you feel like you might have unintentionally offended someone, just admit to your fault and move on. “If you really think you have offended anyone, apologize, take a deep breath, and ask (with a smile) if you can start over,” says Burgess. “Have compassion for yourself for any awkwardness your mistake has caused and remember that everyone makes mistakes. If you just made a little faux-pas, don’t take it so seriously. Instead, laugh at yourself for just being an imperfect human, as we all are, and move on.” And, if challenging your inner critic doesn’t work (or even if it does), you can try a few other tactics for finding your calm when you feel flustered. Here’s a list of simple strategies anyone can put to the test:

    1) Don’t overcompensate.
    First, if you feel like you’ve done something foolish or embarrassing, don’t overcompensate. Don’t try to make up for it by telling a bold joke or talking excessively—you’ll probably just bring negative attention to yourself. Instead, focus on relaxing your mind and your body, which the next few steps will help with.

    2) Just breathe.
    Yes, it is that simple—just breathe. Focus all of your attention on your breath. If it’s quickening, try to slow it down. Take a few seconds to breathe the air in and breathe it back out. This will communicate a calmness to your body.

    3) Correct your posture.
    Now, work on relaxing your posture. If you’re feeling flustered, chances are you’ve assumed a curled up, cross-legged, or otherwise “folded-in” position. Loosen up and display a more powerful stance. Sit (or stand) with your back straight and head held high. This will help you to feel in control again.

    4) Relax your muscles.
    The next step is to relax your muscles. You can still maintain those power stances, but you shouldn’t stress your muscles in the process. So turn your attention to relaxing your muscles, and remind yourself to keep your breathing steady.

    5) Smile.
    Lastly, put on a smile. Have you ever heard the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it”? Convince yourself (and everyone else) that everything is okay by putting that smile on. And soon enough, you’ll mean it. You’ll feel less flustered, realize that it’s not the end of the world, and be A-OK again.

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