We have all been embarrassed–either we have embarrassed ourselves or we have been embarrassed by others. I have always admired people who can easily brush off being embarrassed. For some, they make it look so easy, yet it is a struggle for me, as I replay the instance over and over in my head, only to feel worse about it over time! I am progressing in this area, however, by utilizing the following strategies, and I want to share for those of you who struggle with embarrassment. Below are four things you can do to respond to a situation in which you have embarrassed yourself:
Admit your mistake and laugh at yourself. When it is obvious that your embarrassing mishap is harmless; meaning your words or actions have not negatively impacted or offended someone else. simply laugh out loud. Even when you don’t feel like laughing. This diffuses the situation by sending a message to your brain and to others that you have a healthy sense of self-confidence. Even when you mess up, you will not beat yourself up for it. You realize you are not perfect. I remember one time when I did a Facebook Live in a private group, and mistakenly was broadcasting on my newsfeed, for all of my 3,000 plus friends to see. And it was over five minutes before I realized my mistake. I was horrified, and it showed on my face! I was so embarrassed that I quickly disconnected the broadcast. It was my way of escaping an embarrassing situation. Not too long after this happened to me, a professional colleague of mine made the same mistake, and I watched how he handled the situation, by acknowledging his mistake and laughing about it before calmly ending the broadcast. Which one of us do you think appeared more confident? He did!
Confide in someone. Share your embarrassing story or incident with a friend or colleague you can trust. It can feel liberating to share it with someone externally. First, it tends to lessen the severity of our mishap rather than continuing to roll it around in your head only to feel worse about it. Many times a trusted advisor can help us come up with a solution (if there is one), and if not, they will most likely do their best to make you feel better.
Apologize if you need to and move on. Sometimes you may be embarrassed because you fear how another person has received what you have said or done or not said or done. Maybe you fear you have wronged them, offended them, or hurt their feelings. In these cases, it is always best to initiate a genuine apology, acknowledging your embarrassment at the situation, and if you need to, ask for their forgiveness. However, once you have had this heart to heart conversation, then move on! It used to be my tendency to want to revisit the topic to make absolutely sure the person knows how bad or embarrassed I was. However, as my coach advised me, this only continued to draw attention to the incident.
Remember: the world is NOT looking at you. If we were to look back at all of our embarrassing moments of our past, and if we could ask others to describe them, we would discover that nobody else even remembers most of them. Either they didn’t even notice them at the time, or they forgot about it over time. Ursula Beermann, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychology in Tirol, Austria says, “the ability or proclivity not to take yourself too seriously also can mean you’re prepared to “acknowledge that you are not the center of the universe.”
Do you have your own helpful strategies for overcoming embarrassing situations? If so, please share them!