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5. Cringe bombs and how to defuse them.
The brain randomly digging up old embarrassing memories is a shared human affliction. Let's walk through them together.
I was inspired to write about cringe after a recent occurrence of the following event:
The brain randomly digging up old embarrassing memories is a shared human affliction. It shows up in internet meme-dom over and over in various forms.
It's universal, i've never met another person who hasn't suffered a bout of cringe from an old memory.
Thus, I've started calling these landmine memories, Cringe Bombs. We never know what might trigger one (or if it even needs a trigger) and when they do, they blow up in our face in sticky syrup of shame and embarrassment.
What I've also begun to do, is every time a Cringe Bomb does go off, i attempt to defuse it.
Defusing a cringe bomb means that any time that particular memory pops up again, we do not experience the accompanying cringe. Or at least the effects are muted.
So without much further ado…
How to diffuse a cringe bomb 💣
The moment we experience a cringe bomb, our reflex is to well...cringe, and then try to remove the memory from our current experience. It is uncomfortable and unwelcome and generally not how we want to spend our time feeling.
But if we try to stay with the moment, what do we notice ?
We notice that, in nearly all of these moments, the reason we cringe is because we feel the shame from being judged, perhaps for something we’ve said, or done, or caused. Usually in the presence of other people.
And in the odd case we are alone, the judgement springs from ourselves.
That memory, that moment…ceased to exist as instantly as it had happened. Even the people in that moment, including us, do not exist anymore. We’re now different people.
The only thing that does, is the imprint of that shame and here is where we get our chance to remove it.
In this moment, let’s completely recall who we were in this moment, everything.
Recall how we felt, what we knew, what we didn't know.
Try to recall why we did what we did.
Was that the best option we had? Were we too young to know better?
Think about who we were, understand who we were with all the wisdom hindsight has to offer.
As soon as we start to empathize with that person, judgement will fade.
If our actions were reasonable because of who we were at the time, then judgement itself seems a bit unreasonable.
Congratulations! We've defused a cringe bomb.
This memory will never bother us the same way every again.