I’ve been re-listening to This American Life episodes lately, mostly to pass the time while my son naps in the car. One of my favorite episodes of all time is called “Cringe.” In between some hilarious stories that make you cringe, Ira Glass says the following: “You cringe in that moment of revelation, when you suddenly see that maybe you are not the fun guy, when you see yourself as others see you. And it is not pretty.”
No wonder our entire face changes when this happens. It is our worst nightmare. In a world where so much of our lives are made public, through social media, wherein we can control what we show of ourselves to others, the minute we are proven wrong, our whole body reacts.
Ira Glass continues: “One of the doctors that we talked to about cringes for this week’s show pointed out that a cringe is basically the human body cowering in fear for an instant. And he said that one of the most fearsome, stressful things that we can encounter as people is the thought that we are not who we think we are, the thought that the world sees us differently than we see ourselves, and not in a good way.”
We’ve heard the old saying, “I want to just crawl into a hole and die.” That is the perfect way to describe these feelings. It’s not when we make mistakes; all of us make mistakes, sometimes all the time. However, it is when we make a mistake that reveals something about ourselves, or worse yet, gives others the wrong impression of who we are, thus revealing something about ourselves we didn’t want anyone to know, or that simply isn’t representative of who we are.
A friend of mine likes to say, “our reputation recedes us.” Is it possible to get our reputation back after a cringe-moment? Is it possible to show people that you are someone other than that one moment that unfortunately may define you? How long does it take to earn back your reputation after a cringe-moment?
What do you think?