Posted by fxckfeelings on February 5, 2015Share This Post
Humiliation may cut like a knife, but it’s more like a double-edged sword when it comes to problem solving. Sometimes it warns you that you’re doing something wrong when you’d be otherwise oblivious, but it can also sometimes frighten you needlessly when you’ve really done everything right. Keep your mind and skin intact by not letting humiliation stop you from judging your own actions, taking credit for your actual accomplishments, and making changes if you think they’re necessary. Only a fool would do otherwise.
I’m in my 40s and in pretty good health, but I’ve had problems with my memory after hitting my head on the ice a year ago, and it’s driving me crazy. At work, I just can’t remember whether I told or asked someone something before, so I hesitate to speak up and then wrack my brain trying to figure out what I actually said and did because I’m so afraid of humiliating myself or looking weak. I’ve gone from being confident and outspoken to quiet and timid, and people wonder what’s wrong with me. I’ve asked my doctor to check out my memory and see if I need treatment, because I’m too young to be going senile. My goal is to do whatever is necessary to function properly and stay on top at work.
Whether you work at a fancy brokerage or the Burger King drive-thru, most of us rely on quick recall at our jobs, particularly if we want to impress a group of fast-talking peers, ace an interview with an employer or client, or just avoid getting reassigned to bathroom captain.
It’s not surprising then that your concussion-induced memory problem has triggered anxiety and self-doubt. From what you don’t say, however, it doesn’t seem like slow recall has impaired your ability to actually hold your job, just to impress while doing it.
Probably, like most people who aren’t Aaron Sorkin characters, you provide services that don’t always require a quick memory or demonstrations of verbal brilliance. As long as you have time to gather information that used to appear in your mind without effort, you can do a good job, even if it takes a little longer.
If that’s the case, trying to fix your memory may do more harm than good since you’ll get too focused on something you don’t control. Fortunately, your memory may continue to improve because recovery from concussion can be slow and continue for a long time. Struggling to recall things the way you used to, however, when your brain won’t cooperate, will just make you feel like a loser.
Instead, learn tricks for living with a poor memory and make no bones about your problem; it doesn’t define you, so it shouldn’t embarrass you. Let people know that you believe in your ability to get the job done, even if you can’t do it as easily as before. Make them comfortable with the potentially embarrassing gaffes you might commit. Start a rumor that all of your problems stem from your years in the NFL.
Hopefully, your memory will come back. Even if it doesn’t, however, there’s nothing to stop you from doing a good job while also preventing anxiety—yours and your co-workers’—from reducing your effectiveness.
In the process, you’ll wind up much stronger than you were when your recall was perfect, and maybe you’ll get promoted to executive VP/the frialator.
“I hate saying embarrassingly stupid things at work, simply because I can’t remember things I should, but I still have skills, determination, and an ability to produce good work. I will make others comfortable with my deficit so they won’t fear embarrassing me and will find it easier to help me.”
I don’t think my drinking is that bad, and most people enjoy having a good time with me, but my wife says that I’m an ass when I’m drunk. Now she says I was so obnoxious and nasty at her brother’s Superbowl party that she’s too embarrassed to bring me around anyone in her family for a long, long time. My buddies don’t mind partying with me—they get my jokes and know I work hard all day and like to blow off steam and have a good time—but my wife and her family can be fussy prudes. I don’t care what they think, but I hate having my wife angry at me. My goal is to figure out how to get her to let me enjoy myself without getting pissed off.
If your wife weren’t angry at you for getting a JUI—Jackassery Under the Influence—you’d probably feel better, but it wouldn’t make you better at deciding whether or not you act like a jerk when you’re drunk. From what you say, you can’t trust the judgment of your friends, because they’re drinking buddies who are either acting the same way or are too loaded to give a shit.
Of course, you might wonder why it matters whether or not you’re a jerk if no one around you (other than your wife and her brother and everyone else she’s related to) seems to care. The answer is that you’ll never be able to stand up for yourself unless you can make an independent judgment about your own behavior and take responsibility for it. Otherwise, you’ll just be trying to avoid criticism or charm it away, and you’ll gradually drive away all friends and family who aren’t fuckups like you.
You can avoid this fate by asking someone to record you while you’re drinking, so you can decide for yourself whether you’ve crossed over from fun to infuriating. If not, then maybe your wife and her family are overly critical and you’re better off avoiding their society. If, however, you cross the line on social occasions and become a party-killer for anyone who isn’t just as drunk as you, then you need to ask yourself whether you’re acting like an Asshole™ and whether you can expect your marriage, or any other good relationship, to survive.
Remember, this issue isn’t whether your wife is right, but whether you’re right with yourself. Spell out your own standards for being a decent person, get an accurate record of your own behavior, and decide for yourself whether you measure up. If, as is likely, you don’t, then find a good coach and/or a 12-step program to help you remember what you’re trying to accomplish, build your motivation, and change your bad habits.
If you do need to get sober, that should also be a decision you make for yourself. And if you get invited to next year’s in-law Superbowl party as a result, even better.
“I hate being criticized for having fun, but I suspect that my drinking behavior may not be as much fun for others as it is for me. If I want a wife who is other than a drinking buddy, I will develop an objective way to judge myself and try to live up to my standards.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname