I wanted to share something that happened earlier this week that was VERY embarrassing for me! I have this busted futon at home that when it’s made a bed, sags into the center a lot. If two people are in there they both end up rolling into the middle and fighting for the center. I wanted to get a piece of plywood and lay it down on the frame to see if it would level out the surface at all. Here’s the thing though…I know NOTHING about the world of building things. It was something I never got into when I was younger and when it comes up later as an adult I get a bit embarrassed to admit I don’t even know where to start. I got the measurements for the frame and headed to the nearest hardware store. Once I find my way to the lumber section I see that all the pieces of wood are too large and I would need to get it cut down to size. I finally found a guy and asked him to help me get it down to size, he asked me what it was for and I told him “I need a 4 x 6, a mattress is going on top of it.” Now in this guy’s defense he probably get’s a lot more people actually trying to make something to support a mattress rather than just go under it. The guy takes the piece of wood and asks me again for the dimensions and I give it to him. He makes two cuts, then asks for “the other one.” I have no idea what he’s talking about at this point and got very uncomfortable (I actually started sweating!) We went back and forth a few times him insisting there was another number and me not knowing if I didn’t get a measurement I needed or if he just initially misheard me but since this area was so unknown to me I assumed I was in the wrong. He got frustrated and said “I’ll just do it this way then…” and made a final cut then put the wood onto the cart and walked away. That final cut he had assumed made the wood so much smaller than I was expecting but at that point it was so built up I didn’t want to ask him to do it again.
Now, this ended up just being a bad idea to begin with (a flat hard surface even under a mattress is not nice on people’s backs) but I remember leaving the store thinking in my head: “That was terrible, I’m NEVER going back there.” Once I started driving I started thinking about what happened. If I was going to just give up on a new experience every time something didn’t go as planned I wouldn’t be doing a whole lot of new things, and if I’m not doing anything new I’m not growing.
It’s so strange how we put not knowing on the same level as being stupid. I felt uncomfortable in the environment because it was unfamiliar to me and when asked something I didn’t know I automatically assumed I was in the wrong and it made me feel like an idiot. Since I felt stupid my mind instantly went into a defensive state and stared making all sorts of mental justifications and even (mentally) attacking the man that was helping me! “Can’t he see that I don’t know, this guy wasn’t even listening to me to begin with. He’s just being terrible at his job and trying to put it back on me!” Did he mishear me? Possibly, but there is also the chance that I just didn’t explain myself well at all.
Of course, we shouldn’t feel stupid when we don’t know a lot about a new subject for us. If we get defensive whenever we are not an instant expert on any subject we will never learn anything. The truth is, whenever we start anything new at first: WE SUCK AT IT! We are bad, and just barely get from point A to B. We make a lot of mistakes, but we learn from them. The more we do it, we learn to avoid certain things and find other ways to get it done better or faster. We need to okay with being bad at first and not expect ourselves to be perfect. We’re all learning.
When you get sober a lot of things feel like you’re doing them for the first time and its pretty common to feel this embarrassed overwhelm and emotional overwhelm is a fast track to relapse. Check out my free ebook Early Warning System to learn more about overwhelm and relapse and how to prevent it from happening.
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