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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 August 20, 2018

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3]Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5]Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6]The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7]Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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