Do you ever have awkward moments with people, situations where you just want to run or hide – or do both? Awkward moments have been a common experience for me throughout my life.
I realised through talking with an Esoteric Practitioner about not knowing how to deal with awkwardness that my awkward moments are actually not the issue, but it’s how I respond in these moments.
I was recounting to the practitioner how awkward I felt with some men, sometimes not knowing if I should say hello or not, not knowing how to be myself. Sometimes I felt the awkwardness from another person and then reacted to this and felt myself then become awkward and change how I am.
The practitioner asked me “What if you allowed the awkwardness in your interactions? What if you didn’t judge the feelings as being wrong and just nominated it and allowed the awkward feelings to be there?”
I realised I had spent my life reacting to awkward feelings, either in me, or from another, and this extended beyond just interactions with men. The reaction to awkwardness was there if I felt the slightest bit of rejection or exclusion from a group, or if I said the “wrong” thing… Or even if I was having a conversation involving money: “Remember that money you borrowed? Well you never paid me back…” or being asked to wait to continue a conversation with someone whilst they finished a phone call but not knowing when their call will end. They would say “Just wait there Annie. Don’t go – this will be quick.” And I would wait and wait some more, feeling like I was hovering, and then ask myself: should I wait or go? I would then take on the awkward feelings and not know how to handle it.
I realise that allowing the awkward feelings to be there is actually allowing me to be me, observing and letting things just be how they are, without making it wrong. If I shy away from the feeling and push it away, I end up trying to numb and distract myself with overeating and shopping. If I acknowledge the awkwardness and just say to myself “That felt really awkward!,” I can stay with myself, in full presence, allowing my imperfections rather than try to push away my feelings or wish I could rewind life and try again.
One of my first opportunities to embrace awkwardness after this realisation was when sharing a goodbye hug with my friend’s new boyfriend. As we gave each other a parting hug, my friend hugged him from behind and sandwiched him and I both together, chest to chest; and for a little while her boyfriend and I couldn’t escape. It was probably only for five seconds, but it seemed like a long time since I had only met this person for the second time and hardly knew him.
Normally I wouldn’t say anything and would just want to escape the situation and perhaps feel a bit frustrated and embarrassed with my friend and the situation, but this time I acknowledged how I felt after I released from the hug and commented: “That was awkward…” We laughed about it and I was able to feel the lightness in the situation.
I realise now I have often reacted to awkwardness, which has meant a hardening in myself in that moment of how I feel or how another feels, making my feelings or their feelings wrong. It has felt like a rejection of me and my delicate nature and a rejection of the other person, and all in not wanting to feel any discomfort.
Often I have taken it personally when I have felt another person be awkward with me, but I realise that people have their own hurt and fears around rejection. If I can stay steady with myself, allowing openness and trust in my body, I can support others to also build trust again in people and in relationships.
By Annie, Australia