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How Not to Die of Embarrassment

How Not to Die of Embarrassment

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes embarrassment as:

“The state of feeling foolish in front of others.”[1]

I’m sure you’ve experienced this state many times. (I certainly have!)

Just think of the times when you’ve tripped in public. You tried to look cool about it – but inside you probably felt a whole load of embarrassment.

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Do You Know There Are Actually 6 Types of Embarrassments?

You may not have given it any thought, but embarrassing situations can actually be divided into six types. (These types are caused by ourselves, environmental factors, or other people.)

You’ll likely recognize all six types. Starting with…

  1. Privacy violations – This happens to celebrities a lot. For example, intimate photos are stolen and then shared online for all to see.
  2. Lack of knowledge and skill – Do you recall that difficult interview, when your lack of knowledge left you speechless?
  3. Awkward acts – A recent example of this, is when the BBC was conducting a live interview with Professor Robert E. Kennedy. During the interview, both of his young children inadvertently came into his home office – and into full view of the camera!
  4. Criticism and rejection – An obvious example of this type of situation, is asking someone out on a date. You’ve built up all your strength and confidence, but this is quickly smashed to smithereens when the other person turns down your invite. Face-to-face, this can be a highly embarrassing situation – for both parties.
  5. Appropriate image – Teenagers are particularly susceptible to this. Either they are embarrassed by their body, or embarrassed by their lack of trendy clothes and belongings (e.g. the latest iPhone).
  6. Environment – This can take place when you’re watching a movie with your parents. Everything is going well, and you’re enjoying the movie, until… suddenly an ‘adult’ scene begins to take place! You don’t know where to look – or what to say. You just hope and pray that the scene will finish soon!

As you can see from the above examples, embarrassment is impossible to avoid in our lives.

However, there are ways to deal effectively with embarrassing situations. Let’s take a look at these now.

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How Not to Die of Embarrassment?

One of my friends has a speech impediment which causes him to stutter. While this could have led to him being embarrassed to speak in front of others, he’s never let this be the case (since I’ve known him). In fact, he’s actually a compelling and persuasive communicator.

Whatever the cause of your embarrassment, there’s likely to be a way that you can deal with it.

Read on to find out how….

Don’t Let the “Spotlight Effect” Blind You.

Researchers from Cornell University recently conducted several studies into how much our actions and appearance are noticed by others.[2] The studies revealed that most of us massively overestimate how much other people notice or remember our behaviours and appearance. It appears that most people are too busy being concerned about themselves, than to worry about other people. (I’m sure you know some colleagues or friends who fit this description.) In other words, your embarrassing situation is likely to go unnoticed, or at least be easily forgotten. (Great news!)

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Change the Channel.

You’ve been asked to introduce a colleague at your company’s annual sales conference. Unfortunately, nerves get the better of you – and you fail to remember your colleague’s name. It’s embarrassing, for sure. However, there is a simple trick to wiggle your way out of this situation. Turn the attention to your colleague (and away from yourself) by giving them a compliment such as: “One thing I do remember, is that my colleague has a much better memory than me!”

Stay Cool.

The questions just keep coming… And the interviewer seems determined to find out why you’re unsuitable for the job! In situations like this, you can quickly start to feel weak and embarrassed. The secret is to keep your cool. You can do this by making sure you control your breathing, that your answers are coherent (to the best of your ability), and to remind yourself that other interviewees will be receiving the same grilling as you! By keeping your poise, you’ll stave off embarrassment – and have a great chance of securing the job.

Laugh at Yourself.

At 2.10 meters tall, I often get people commenting on my height (several times a day, in fact). Sometimes this attention is welcome – other times it’s not. I usually deal with the latter by making a self-deprecating joke. For example, if I’m shopping in a supermarket, occasionally someone says to me: “With your height, you’d be great for filling the top shelves.” I’ve been known to reply with: “True, but I’d be useless for filling the bottom shelves!”

Stop Replaying the Embarrassment.

Embarrassing moments can haunt us for years. For instance, I’m sure you can recall events from your school life. Perhaps you answered a question incorrectly in class – and everyone laughed at you. This one incident may have led to you being reluctant to speak in front of the class again. In later life, you may have had issues with public speaking, etc. As you can see, it’s important to break free from embarrassing situations. You do this by accepting that they happened, but realizing that you’re now a different and stronger person. You can also learn to leave embarrassing situations behind by keeping your mental focus clearly on the now.

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Face the Problem and Solve It.

Imagine you’ve just knocked over your latte at the counter of your local café. The hot, frothy drink has gone everywhere! You’re definitely embarrassed by the situation. One way to deal with this, is to immediately begin clearing up the mess. This will help you detach from the incident, and instead, allow you to focus on resolving it. Not only will it make you happier – but the staff will probably thank you too!

I’ll be honest with you, there’s no magic formula that can protect you from experiencing embarrassment.

However, if you adopt the tips and techniques above, you’ll be able to deal confidently with all kinds of embarrassing situations. This could lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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