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.

Need Morning Motivation? 30 Routines to Help You Start Afresh How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time One Item That Is Often Absent in Resumes but Extremely Important: Soft Skills What to Do When You Hate Your Job (for Both Who Choose to Stay and Quit) 10 Best Wallets for Men and Women (with RFID-Blocking Technology)

Trending in Psychology

1 How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 3 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 4 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 5 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 30, 2019

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:

Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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

      Read Next