We all feel embarrassed. It is an emotion that most of us face in our lifetime. Some might have felt it when they fell on the road. Someone could have felt it when they said a bad word in public. We can feel ashamed for ourselves or on behalf of others. This emotion is different for everyone. It affects us all differently. Some people can laugh it off. Some people are deeply affected by it. This article, therefore, focuses on how to handle embarrassment and get over it.
Signs of Embarrassment
- Our cheeks become flushed
- We may internally or externally claim ‘oops!’
- We try to escape the situation as soon as possible
- Our eyes may lower down
- We will start to explain our actions
An embarrassed person may feel guilty and exposed. The event that triggers embarrassment can be a positive one. For example, someone can call us cute and we may feel embarrassed. This could be because we are caught off guard. The event can be a negative one. For instance, when we suddenly sneeze in a meeting. The reason for feeling ashamed is because think that people judge us. We think others are only observing us. In addition to this, we also feel that we are breaking a social norm.
Do People Experience Embarrassment Differently?
Psychological Reasons for a Harsh Inner-Critic
- Parenting: Children who are raised by strict parents can have poor self-esteem. They may have a constant need to be perfect in life. Parents would have set great expectations for them. This is why the children may need to excel. Sometimes when the parents are too permissive, children feel shocked at hearing any criticism from others. This happens because parents have never been assertive with them. When they are in an awkward situation, they may not know how to handle embarrassment.
- Mental Disorder: When someone is going through depression, they feel hopeless and worthless. They feel that their actions let down others around them. Depressed people have negative thoughts. They may not know how to positively handle embarrassment or get over it. They can have maladaptive thought patterns. An anxious person who is hyper-alert may feel that everyone will make fun of them if they make a mistake.
- Social and Cultural Factors: If culture places a lot of importance on morals and values, a person will feel more embarrassed after breaking a social norm. Some societies teach children to handle embarrassment constructively. However some reprimand children for even a small mistake.
How to Handle Embarrassment?
- Acceptance: We must accept that we are all humans. We can all fail and have flaws. When we accept this, we forgive ourselves for small mistakes. Accepting that everyone makes mistakes also makes us feel less lonely. Accepting ourselves makes us handle embarrassment healthily and constructively.
- Reduce Concern: We must not worry about what others think of us. In most situations, people are least bothered by what we do. We may fall down the stairs and people may forget it in the next ten minutes. It is important to realise that others don’t always look at us. They have a life of their own.
- Introspect: Whenever we think that we have committed a mistake, we must introspect. We must not criticize ourselves. Introspection helps us understand whether the mistakes can often be rectified. When we introspect, we realise that it is not fair to be hard on ourselves. It will also help in understanding the intensity of the mistake. We can understand that small mistakes don’t matter much.
How to Deal With Embarrassment?
- Laugh It Off!: When you laugh at your embarrassing moment, you don’t ruminate over the embarrassing moment. You simply shrug it off. You don’t remember the even for a longer time once you forget about it.
- Maintain a Thought Journal: This can be a place where you can vent out your emotions. Feel comfortable with the awkward situation. You can write what could have been done differently, if at all. You can also rethink the situation and write it down. When we rethink, we realise that there are many factors involved in a situation. For example, when you fall in public, you can realise that there was water on the floor.
- Call Friends or Family: Getting a third person’s perspective helps us understand that we are not alone. Many people face awkward moments. Our loved ones also make us feel belonged. We feel heard.
- Channelize Your Energy: Instead of thinking about the awkward moment, think of ways how you can divert your thoughts. After an embarrassing event, go eat a favourite dish, write a song or read a book.
Letting Go of Embarrassment
We can practice gratitude daily. This makes letting go of any awkward situation easier. Finally, we should realise that being embarrassed serves a very important purpose. It makes it easier for us to understand what others go through. It teaches us that we can never always be perfect. We get a chance to improve ourselves. At times it just makes everyone laugh in a tense situation.