Advertising
Advertising

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Every Embarrassing Moment in Life

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Every Embarrassing Moment in Life

Think back to when you were at school. Most of the time, you probably enjoyed learning new things and having fun with your friends.

However, you almost certainly encountered some cringeworthy, embarrassing moments.

Like the time when a teacher asked you a simple question in front of the class – but you answered it wrongly. Your classmates began sniggering, before quickly shifting to uncontrollable laughter! Despite the teacher telling them to be quiet, the damage was done. You made yourself look like a fool in front of your class. And your obvious embarrassment was written all over your face.

On an subconscious level, this frightful experience is likely to be still impacting you today.

Most of the embarrassing moments that plague our lives fall into six categories:[1]

1. Privacy. You’re getting changed in your bedroom when someone opens the door without knowing you are there. As you’re only half dressed – you’re hugely embarrassed by the incident.

2. Lack of knowledge and skill. You’re feeling confident that your interview for a dream job is going well. Suddenly, however, you’ve been posed a question about a skill you’ve listed on your resume. The interviewer knows a lot about the skill, and it’s clear that you don’t!

3. Criticism and rejection. You’ve gone to your local bank to see if you can arrange a car loan. The adviser spends a long time collating your financial details and asking you questions about your intended car purchase. After 30 minutes with you, the adviser says that everything looks okay, but she just needs to run a credit check. It was all going well until then. Unfortunately, the credit check reveals that you’re not entitled to a loan from the bank. You feel defeated and embarrassed.

4. Awkward acts. Your friend has just bought a new apartment, and they’ve asked you to come along to their housewarming party. You turn up with a bottle of wine and some chocolates. The party is going great until disaster strikes… You’ve knocked over your glass of red wine, and it’s spilled all over the pure white carpet. Awkward, for sure!

5. Appropriate image. You’ve been invited to a theatre show by some work colleagues. You casually agreed to go, without paying too much attention to what the show was all about. On show day, you agree to meet your colleagues outside the theater. You’re running a little late, but that’s not the worst of it. When you arrive, you immediately see that everyone is dressed formally – and you’re in jeans and T-shirt. (That’s the last time you went to the opera!)

6. Environment. You’re a teenager. And you’re watching a movie at home with your parents. Between the drama and the action, the movie is proving to be a compelling watch. However… out of the blue, a graphic ‘adult’ scene begins to take place. It’s not just you that’s embarrassed by this – your parents clearly are too!

Advertising

Have you noticed that embarrassment hits most of us hard, but some people seem much more resilient?

I’m sure you’ve seen it happen. A young waiter is carrying several plates of food, but unfortunately trips and falls. The food goes everywhere, and the plates are smashed to smithereens. What could be more embarrassing than this? However, he looks completely unruffled by the incident, and instead, begins to calmly clean up the mess from the floor.

Impressive, for sure.

People who appear immune to embarrassment have a different mental outlook to most of us.

Firstly, they tend to be very self-confident people, who don’t easily feel shame or humiliation. They have powerful self-belief, and don’t allow themselves to be knocked down for long.

Secondly, they have a different perspective on mistakes. While you may regard mistakes as a bad thing, the ’embarrassment-immune’ minority sees mistakes as vital learning cues.

So, how can you become more like the above people?

Let’s start with the everyday embarrassing moments we all face and how we can tackle them.

Here are some of the most common embarrassing moments, and the best ways you can handle them.

Having your debit/credit card declined at a store…

It’s horrifying. You feel that you’ve been immediately judged by the people in the store.

Counteract this by looking and sounding confident, and saying something along the lines of: “My mistake, that card has actually expired. Here, please use this valid one.”

Falling on a treadmill…

This is both dangerous to your physical body – and to your ego!

Advertising

If you’re unfortunate to fall while using a treadmill, firstly, be sure to check that you’re not physically injured. If you’re okay, then you might want to make a joke about the incident with other gym members. You could say: “I think I was too quick for the treadmill!”

Asking if someone is pregnant – when they’re not…

This has happened to several of my colleagues and friends. They thought someone was pregnant, when really they had just put on weight (especially around the stomach area).

This scenario is humiliating for the person being asked, and hugely embarrassing for the person doing the asking.

My recommendation is to profusely apologize to the person in question, and then explain that you thought you’d heard that she was pregnant. Something like: “Oh, I’m sorry. The gossip in the office was that you were expecting. I’ll make sure the gossip stops.”

Listening to your stomach making groaning noises while you’re in a quiet meeting…

This happened to me. I’d skipped breakfast and was existing purely on coffee. However, my stomach clearly was expecting something more. I went into a meeting that was quiet (bordering on silent), and my stomach decided to make an appearance. Despite my best efforts, the groaning became louder and louder. Let’s just say, that I was relieved when the meeting was finally over!

This scenario can be dealt with in several ways.

Firstly, make sure that before going into a quiet zone (church, meeting, theater, etc.) that you’ve eaten a decent amount of food. Secondly, if your stomach has begun to make noises, you could choose to excuse yourself from the gathering and then quickly eat something. Lastly, if the noise from your stomach is not too bad, you could apologize to those around you by saying: “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was so hungry.”

Failing to open a door correctly…

I’m sure you’ve done this. Pulling a door when it should be pushed – or pushing a door when it should be pulled. It’s always a little embarrassing to do this, even though it happens frequently to most of us.

I’ve discovered a trick that prevents me from making this mistake. Before opening a door, I have a quick glance at the hinges at the top of the door. In most cases, this reveals which way the door opens.

However, if you still fail to open a door correctly, then redirect the attention away from you, by saying: “This door should really be marked with push and pull signs.”

Advertising

Realizing that you have coffee stains on your pants…

This happens to all of us from time to time. It can be coffee, tea or even chocolate. But the results are the same, an embarrassing stain on your pants – that you may not have even known about.

Practical ways to resolve this include changing your pants, or attempting to wipe off the offending stain.

From a psychological point of view, try to see this episode as nothing more than a humorous incident. It can be embarrassing – but it can also be funny. It’s purely dependent on your perspective. To make people laugh about it, say something like: “I might have to start wearing nappies again!”

Discovering that your phone is not on silent during an interview…

I remember my brother telling me a story about someone who interviewed at his company. The interviewee not only forgot to put his phone on silent – but actually took the call during the interview. He proceeded to speak with the caller for several minutes… while the interviewers looked on in amazement.

This guy wasn’t embarrassed (but he should have been!), but for most ordinary folks, a cellphone ringing during an interview is a nightmare scenario. It can make you look bad, and instantly knock your confidence.

Deal with this situation by always double-checking that your phone is on silent. If necessary, turn off your phone completely.

If the worst happens, then you need to move into damage limitation mode. You could apologize by saying: “I’m so sorry about that. I was sure I had put my phone on silent, but it appears that I was mistaken.”

Forgetting someone’s name when introducing them…

Have you experienced this issue in your life before? Unless you have a super-powered memory, then I’m sure you have.

If you can’t remember someone’s name when introducing them, then you have a couple of choices. You could say: “This is a colleague of mine from the Finance Department.” Alternatively, you could apologize for your memory loss, and say: “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name – can you remind me please?”

Deal with any potential embarrassment by not allowing your memory loss to destroy your self-confidence. You can also put the incident into perspective. (Forgetting a name is a relatively trivial matter.)

Advertising

Finding out that your shirt is covered in sweat patches…

The air conditioning in your office can’t handle the heat on a particularly hot day. Despite applying your usual antiperspirant, you’ve started to sweat profusely – and it’s now showing through your shirt.

This can definitely be embarrassing, as personal hygiene is expected in modern society.

What to do? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a spare shirt, then you could change into this. You could also go home early, if homeworking is an option.

If you have to stay in the office with your sweat-stained shirt, then you’ll need to deal with it. Do this by stating to others that the office is so hot that it’s started to make you sweat (i.e., this is not a personal problem). You could say: “Crikey! It’s incredibly hot in here. I hardly ever sweat, but right now I’m feeling the effects of the heat.”

Choking on your food…

Picture going on a first date. You’ve spent several hours showering and grooming yourself. (You want to look and smell great.) You meet your prospective partner at the chosen restaurant, and both of you relax into some friendly conversation. Your food order arrives, and you take your first few bites… It could be nervousness or stress, but either way, the food goes down the wrong pipe – and you find yourself choking!

Definitely not the best look on a first date.

You could avoid this by making sure that you’re as relaxed as possible during the meal. You could even take smaller bites, and chew for longer than usual.

If it’s happened, and you’re choking on your food, the first thing is to clear the blockage. Once this is resolved, you need to find a way to overcome the embarrassment. Do this by making a joke of the incident: “That’ll teach me for being greedy!”

Embarrassing moments are waiting in the wings to spring upon you at the most unexpected times. However, once you begin to practice the tried and tested ways of dealing with embarrassment, then you’ll no longer fear these situations.

Reference

[1] Withers, Lesley; Sherblom, John. “Embarrassment: The Communication of an Awkward Actor Anticipating a Negative Evaluation”

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

We Don’t Need More Likes, We Need Self-Esteem 30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation What to Do When You Hate Your Job (for Both Who Choose to Stay and Quit) Characteristics of Critical Thinking (And How to Think Critically) How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time

Trending in Psychology

1 11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind 2 4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting 3 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 4 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 5 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

    Advertising

    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

          Advertising

          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

                Advertising

                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

                    Advertising

                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

                        Read Next