Embrace Embarrassment

Those who personally know me may also know how big of a Derren Brown fan I am. In one of Derren’s shows, he challenges his crowd and asks for someone to stand up to reveal his/her secret. Hesitantly, a woman stands up and through a series of questions, Derren reveals that she’s a primary school teacher and that she once farted in class. Probably, what you are thinking is that if you were that teacher, what you would most probably have felt would be an embarrassment.

If we were to unpack the word “embarrassment” to make sense, we will see that its roots go back to French and Spanish, meaning “to block” or “obstruct.” Embarrassment is seen as an emotional response that arises from our thoughts and evaluations about our behavior in social situations.

Embarrassment occurs when we hold irrational beliefs or demands about how we should appear to others or how we should be perceived. These beliefs might include the idea that we must never make mistakes, always appear competent, or that we need everyone’s approval. In other words, embarrassment stems from thoughts related to personal weakness revealed publicly.

Some of the strategies that can help navigate embarrassment into a healthy feeling would be:

  • Laugh it Off: Remember that everyone has their share of embarrassing moments. Instead of letting embarrassment overwhelm you, try to find humor in the situation. Laughing at yourself not only eases the tension but also shows that you’re comfortable with your imperfections.
  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Your mind might magnify the embarrassment, making it seem much worse than it actually was. Challenge those negative thoughts by asking yourself if the situation will matter in the long run or if others are likely to remember it.
  • Develop Confidence: Building self-confidence can buffer the impact of embarrassing moments. Recognize your strengths, achievements, and qualities that make you unique. The more you believe in yourself, the less external incidents can shake your self-esteem.

Remember, embarrassment is a universal experience, and nobody is immune to it. Embarrassment is a reminder that you’re human, navigating a world full of unexpected twists and turns. It shows you care about social norms and relationships, even if they trip you up sometimes.