Tuesday, July 15, 2008

mistakes were made

One of the least productive ways I spend my time is dwelling on some of the many minor stupid things I’ve done. Though “dwelling” is probably the wrong word, since the thoughts skim in and out of my mind with disconcerting speed, leaving behind only a pervasive and twitchy self-consciousness. My big mistakes don’t haunt me – at least not in the same way. The little ones, however, seem stubbornly ineradicable.

I’ll be on my way to a staff meeting when I’ll suddenly remember that time in fourth grade when I unfairly decided not to invite Alison Segal to my birthday party. Or that polyester shirt printed with (I am so not kidding) every single sign of the zodiac that I wore (in public and more than once) during the 70s. Or that idiotic remark that I made to a roomful of drunken friends of friends at a long-ago party in a faraway town.

I know the drill. When I think of these things, I tell myself that they weren’t important (and they weren’t). That the other people involved don’t remember them. (and I’m sure they don’t). That it’s not useful to think about them (and it isn’t). But I know that no matter how much I try to reassure myself, tomorrow or the next day, those memories or others like them will – just for a second -- resurface (and they do).

What minor acts of self-sabotage do you engage in? And how do you get yourself to stop?

29 comments:

cinnamon gurl said...

Being unable to stop talking about condiments to a condiment-phobe.

Asking an INTJ if they ever feel lonely.

Trying to find out whether I've annoyed someone irrevocably but probably just annoying them more by my clumsy approach.

thailandchani said...

Little things? My temper annoys me a lot because I unintentionally hurt others. Even when I apologize, it can't take the sting away.

Last event of that kind was Friday when I pulled out my Leona Helmsley voice and used it on the receptionist.

I know better.. but sometimes I am mindless.

~*

Lori said...

G*d, you read me like a book.

Sometimes, I email the person I'm afraid I've offended or alienated, and try to explain or apologize, depending on what's required.

What would I do with all that extra brain capacity if I stopped obsessing?

(Is this comment too self-indulgent?)

niobe said...

Cinnamon Gurl: I'm absolutely positive that none of those comments would cause any condiment-hating, solitude-loving INTJ even the tiniest bit of annoyance.

Especially if they were made by someone possessed of your preternatural charm.

niobe said...

And that goes for you too, Lori.

Kymberli said...

We're talking about little things here, right?

Because I've already eaten that carb-laden whateveritis, I shrug my shoulders in a "what the hell" manner and eat the cookie, too. Judging from the size of my butt, I haven't figured out how to stop.

Since there's a secondary discussion of Keirsey's temperaments here, I'll throw in that I'm an INFJ.

Aunt Becky said...

I do precisely the same thing. Seriously, it's a constant catalog of my past misdeeds in my brain. I try to just think of something else.

Oh, and I second guess the crap out of myself.

Yolanda said...

I'm a dweller. Always have been. conciously and unconsciously. I still fret about that one time in the hallway in 11th grade when I said, "Yo Dick!" loudly while telling a story and Adam Dick walked by and looked over because he thought I was calling him, or making fun of his name, which I'm sure has happened every day since he was in the first grade and the big kids at recess told him what dick really meant. I 100% guarantee that Adam Dick doesn't remember the incident, and probably doesn't even remember going to school with me. But he is in my subconscious with a thousand other guilty memories, including the time I drank my dad's last Pepsi, and the history book I defaced by declaring my love for Donnie Wahlberg.

And since it came up, I'm an INTJ.

Sara said...

Those same kinds of things haunt me - childhood cruelties I participated in, stupid things I said...

Also, sometimes a random image of something painful and gross and awful will pop into my head for no reason, and you know how well it works when you tell your brain NOT to think about something. Ugh.

I don't know if there's a solution to the torture of memories, but I have noticed that the thoughts of physical stuff lose their power after they've popped into my head about a million times.

Duck said...

I think about things that I did wrong long long time ago, silly things like taking the wrong persons ice cream in kindergarten, or not sharing the ambulance toy in pre-school (apparently I was forever scarred as a person who doesn't work well with others).
These things pop in my head, regrets of things I should have done differently.
weird, isn't it.

Bea said...

I really don't do this, except with one thing: approximately ten years ago I had a male houseguest, and I spent the whole morning wandering around the house wearing a tiny spaghetti-strap nightie that had a tendency to gape open and show my boobs. I think I believed that he would simply avert his eyes if anything happened to show. WHAT WAS I THINKING???

Ruby said...

Regrets are my form of self-sabotage.
I sometimes can't stop thinking of the things I should have done or said before my mom and/or baby girl died. Then the guilt sets in because it wasn't perfect.

Maggie said...

I will obsess about things and mistakes (big and little) that I have made...and make myself just crazy thinking about them. And it never really seems to help anything when I do that either.

Sara said...

thank you, I'm glad to know im not the only one that does this.

susan said...

I can't answer that question right now because your post has me thinking about the time when I was maybe 11 or 12 or 13 and bought a checkered stuffed snake on the last day of my hometown fair, when they sold the animals people hadn't won at the games. The only reason I wanted it was because my friend J. said she wanted it, and so I said I wanted it, and I got there first, and I bought it. She was mad. I don't know why I did that, or why I didn't give it to her later. Go figure.

Monica H said...

I do this too, but mainly because I was the girl in 4th grade who wasn't invited to my best friends' birthday party. I still to this day wonder why she chose to exclude me.

Hannah said...

This is very opportune; I am in the very early stages of striking out on my own, work-wise, and am struggling with how to value myself... because one of my major acts of self-sabotage is constantly telling myself that success is for other people... not people "like me".

I also am forever drawn to people who are damaged in some way, and then they disappoint me, but I don't seem to be able to befriend calm, well-adjusted people because I'm convinced I won't have anything to offer if I can't be a shoulder to cry on.

Great post. Although now I feel like perhaps I need a drink. ;)

painted maypole said...

i have some unimportant ones that I try to tell myself "no one even remember this, just forget it yourself!" and then I have some medium ones (likes things I said but shouldn't have) and then some big ones, like things I wish I had stood up for and things I wish I had taken more seriously and....

crap. now I'm thinking about all those things.

;)

Azaera said...

Sometimes I start thinking about the stupidest thing I ever did, which led to a painful surgery and 2 metal plates & a huge amount of screws in my arm. The thing is I have post traumatic stress about it or something because everytime I remember that night I start to feel violently ill and I have nightmares and it just freaks me out and then I can't sleep and I think if only I hadn't done something so stupid.. etc..
I guess it was more of a big mistake than a little one, but the thing is I live with the consequences everyday and they don't bother me, I love being different, I love having this huge ugly scar, the time I spent in the hospital actually changed my life for the better. It's just remembering the fall, and the horrid feeling in the pit of my gut as I fell onto the concrete and seeing my arm dangling the wrong way at the elbow..

It's so hard to stop once you start. And while we're on the subject I'm an INFP which I believe is the healer/idealist. So yeah being an idealist I do tend to beat myself up about pretty much everything. Like not getting an A+ in my science class in grade 7. Which totally doesn't matter now, I graduated years ago. Uh oh now you've got me started.

JamieD said...

In first grade, my Mom made me make a valentine for everyone in my class for our Valentine's Day party. There was one boy who had a crush on me and I couldn't stand him so I threw it in the trash instead of putting it in his bag.

I have spent every Valentine's Day since thinking about this boy and feeling guilty because I didn't give him a Valentine although my mother assures me he is probably over it by now.

thrice said...

Marry someone completely inappropriate, have three sons and then wonder why it is so hard to get out.

I haven't begun to figure out how to stop sabotaging myself.

Julia said...

I procrastinate. Time myself way out, and then race like a mad woman to finish the project. Usually I succeed and get praised for excellent work. Doesn't help with stopping procrastination, like at all. Neither do blogs... Help?

Betty M said...

I can't ever do anything until the deadline is staring me in the face either.
I also dwell on things I have said where I seem to have misjudged the tone - for eg I used the phrase balls aching in a meeting the other day. I was meeting with a group of career soldiers so you would have thought they could have coped but perhaps they just can't deal wit a lady being a bit rude. Anyway I've been thinking of it ever since rather pointlessly.

ewe are here said...

Swearing to myself I won't eat the entire bag of cookies ... and then eating them.

Sigh.

Ahuva Batya said...

Wow. I thought I was the only person who went through this kind of self-reproach about random events in my past. Like the time I was with the "cool kids" so was cutting down a friend of mine just so I would fit in, only to realize she was sitting nearby listening. Sometimes that memory of her quietly standing up and walking out of the room comes back with searing pain.

Aurelia said...

As an ADDer, I have to admit, I spend my life dwelling on stupid things I've done, because I make more mistakes than most.

The thing is, some of the things that I have done were so spectacularly obviously stupid that some old friends still talk about them. In public, and laugh.

Beck said...

My big thing - while I'm walking in heels - is to suddenly think "I AM GOING TO TRIP!" and then I spend the rest of the evening taking little mincing steps. Yay, me.

Amy said...

I torture myself over mistakes, little and big. I worry about the student that I joked around with (did they think I was serious? did I offend them? have I scarred them for life?) and then I have to go apologize to them (I've never once even had a student say they remember what I'm talking about), and then I worry that maybe they're just saying it didn't bother them but I really did damage them somehow. Or I worry about hurting the boyfriend of 11 years ago because I (and I'm so embarrassed) cheated on him (it was a kiss!). I'm sure he's moved on, but I still feel bad about it!

Kami said...

I'm late, as usual, but I wanted to comment. I do this all the time. Maybe not as far back as 4th grade, but I do think of things I shouldn't have done or decisions I shouldn't have made.

I have a mantra like you. Mine is, "I made the best decision I could at the time." It helps. A little. On a good day.