How Can I Stop Being so Embarrassed When I Do Something Stupid?

Dear Lifehacker! Every time I do something unpleasant, I freeze in horror. Sometimes this is justified, but sometimes I feel like I’m just fixated on something that doesn’t matter. How can I stop worrying about every little mistake?

Regards, Evermore

Dear embarrassed one, take a deep breath and relax. While you may not be able to completely turn off the physiological responses of awkward moments, there are many ways to soften their impact and deal with them gracefully. You may even be able to prevent some awkward moments in the future.

Why are we embarrassed

Whether we say something stupid or do something strange, there is an involuntary process going on in our bodies that we cannot control. Our cheeks turn red and our hearts beat faster. We start to sweat, and words, if any, come out of our mouths in a slow crawl. If humans were able to develop invisibility, we would have done so already, because at times like these our brains don’t need anything else.

You probably know what embarrassment is, but it’s important to understand why this is happening. While there are many ways to define embarrassment, Crew Blog’s Andrea Ayres accurately explains it as a fear response :

Embarrassment is an emotion of shyness, caused by a mismatch between how we feel we should react or act in public and how we actually react or act. We are more likely to get embarrassed when we think we are not meeting the demands of society, or when we receive unwanted attention.

Basically, we want to appear as socially acceptable as possible, and when we do something that we think jeopardizes it , we become terrified. You can’t spill wine on your shirt when you take a sip, so when that happens, you are afraid that everyone will reject you as a person in society.

The problem, of course, is that we are not perfect – not even close. Our bodies have evolved to respond to social situations in a certain way, and it is important that you accept this as a natural response in social situations. In fact, it is the presence of other people that makes the situation awkward in the first place. You are not embarrassed when you fall at home alone, only when you do it surrounded by others. It’s like tickling. You cannot completely get rid of embarrassment in the same way that you cannot bring yourself to be embarrassed.

As difficult as it is, accept the embarrassment. At some point, you ‘ll do something uncomfortable again . But there is still something you can do to soften the initial blow and take action calmly.

Admit your embarrassment when it’s obvious

The main factor that causes embarrassment is the involvement of other people, but it is important to understand that different situations require different ways of solving them. Are they paying attention to you? Did they see what you did or did they hear what you said? Otherwise, there is no need to indicate what you have done. Yes, you will probably still feel a little embarrassed – after all, you are still around other people – but you can take a deep breath and be grateful that your embarrassment will not last long.

However, if it’s clear that everyone has noticed, you can reduce the initial shock and noticeable redness by doing what Mark Tyrrell of Uncommon Help calls ” revelation “:

Now I very rarely blush; however, for some reason, I once blushed when talking to about thirty people … I said, “Oh, I don’t believe! Look, I’m blushing! “… I myself” exposed “the redness, there was nowhere to run, and immediately stopped.

Admit that you are embarrassed and tell your witnesses to the people who witnessed it. If you succumb to this, your body will overcome the shock much faster, and you will be able to take control of the situation. Mitigating that initial shock will keep you from freezing and rushing out of the room. Unless you are surrounded by some awful awful people, they will understand and may even try to help you feel better.

Apologize, but only when necessary.

Not all awkward moments are potentially dangerous, but sometimes our blunders happen in the worst possible situations. If you’ve offended someone or caused others trouble with your mistake, it’s important to apologize .

When you really need to apologize, there are three key factors to fixing things after an embarrassing moment:

  1. Take responsibility for what happened. Don’t pass it on to other people.
  2. Explain as gracefully as possible why this happened. People find solace in the “why” of things.
  3. Don’t do it anymore than it really is. Your reaction may make him even more unpleasant than it is right now.

For example, if you misnamed a future business partner, it would be disrespectful and could ruin the relationship. However, you can answer this question and apologize by saying something like, “I’m sorry I called you the wrong name, John. You remind me of someone else I know and it just slipped away. I’m so embarrassed, so I hope we continue, please. ” They will feel like a bug has been fixed and will probably want to move forward just like you do.

However, most people also often feel the need to apologize after doing something embarrassing, even if they don’t need to. This can make things difficult for you and the other person. Even if you’ve admitted your embarrassment, you want to quickly relive the moment, not ink it in red so that it lasts forever. When you apologize for something that does not require an apology, whatever you are actually doing adds to the general anxiety at the moment.

Teresa Borchard of the PBS blog This Emotional Life puts it this way: all embarrassment happens in the past , and unnecessary apologies only make you feel worse.

I sincerely think that if I apologize, I will return to my normal state … “One more apology and I will feel good.” No, you won’t. In fact, you will get worse. Because, again, your focus is on the past, not the present, where you don’t have to apologize for anything.

If you made a serious mistake, apologize. But if you haven’t really done anything wrong, don’t behave the way you do. You want to move forward and mentally leave an unpleasant moment in the past. It happened, you admitted it, and now it’s over. Accept what happened, try to fix the situation if necessary, and move on.

Laugh with people and you will not be laughed at

For most of us, the biggest fear we have when we get into trouble is that we’re laughing at them. In truth, people can laugh at you because that’s a different type of natural reaction that you can’t do anything about. However, this does not mean that the situation is out of your control.

When you decide to laugh at yourself with people, they don’t laugh at you. You become part of the fun that everyone thought they were spending at your expense, and you have the opportunity to show others that you don’t take things too seriously. This may sound like the advice you get in elementary school, but it’s really effective. You are only a victim of an awkward situation if you allow yourself to be in it. Stay away from skid and own it.

Of course, you can only laugh at yourself sometimes. If you’re around people who want to make you feel bad, a little self-deprecating humor can help take the edge off whoever is trying to hurt you. Say something like, “This is not the first time I have done this.” Or “what else am I ruining today?” Can confuse their sales and confirm that you are comfortable with who you are. Even by agreeing with what they are talking about, you can help get rid of their dastardly fire. Finally, if this becomes too much, do not be afraid to get out of the situation. Everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn’t give others the right to make you feel terrible.

Overcome embarrassment with a compliment

Even if you own the moment, you probably don’t want everyone to linger on it too long. You can redirect attention to others to keep things moving and take off the warmth. Richard Ansman of Westside Toastmasters thinks a compliment is an elegant way to do it :

For example: “You are always so careful about these things. You would never make such an embarrassing mistake, and I hope I never make it again. ” Benefit: You offer two universally recognized qualities – praise and warmth.

You want the compliment to match what just happened and make sure it doesn’t sound like an ass . Telling someone you like their shirt doesn’t distract you from stumbling, it just feels awkward and gets more attention. But telling someone that you can’t imagine they are clumsy like you. The bit ends up with a situation and now it can go in any direction.

Don’t let embarrassment turn into fear

Embarrassment is a pretty harmless side effect if it doesn’t escalate into fear or shame. When you contemplate these moments and allow them to create your home, the dumbest embarrassment becomes fuel for all kinds of future anxieties. Being rejected when you invite someone becomes a fear of rejection. Saying the wrong word in conversation becomes a fear of communication. An unplanned bathroom emergency turns into a feeling of shame, as if you did something wrong.

To prevent things from taking root in your thoughts, you must change your perspective on what happened. As explained in the above video from the WellCast YouTube channel, you have to change the channel in your head. You have a sitcom marathon on TV in your head, flashing the same stupidity over and over again, so switch channels to something better. Focus on something and get distracted.

If you feel like you can’t find a remote control for your mind, you can look at an unpleasant moment in a different light. When you look back at unpleasant moments, you are probably focusing on your feelings. A recent study by the University of Illinois suggests that you should look back and focus instead on what else was happening that day. Think about the people who were there, the weather that day, and any other tiny details you can remember that don’t evoke emotion. Psychology professor Florin Dolkos, lead researcher, explains:

… that anything else that was unemotional that was part of the memory will quite easily distract your mind from the unwanted emotions associated with that memory. Once you dive into other details, your mind will completely move on to something else, and you won’t be as focused on negative emotions.

As you get over difficult moments from your past, you may begin to see them a little more “half full.” The more you can look back and change your perspective on the awkward moments of your past, the more armor you can build for awkward moments in the future. You will be able to remind yourself that you have dealt with things before and prevent fear from creeping in.

Accept humility to avoid future embarrassment.

To truly deal with unpleasant moments with dignity, you need to be as humble as you can. Humility is a virtue that keeps you balanced and humble. It becomes your best shield. Psychologist Karl Albrecht of Psychology Today explains humility best :

Humility is emotional neutrality . This includes a growing experience in which you no longer need to put yourself above others, but you also do not put yourself below them. Everyone is equal to you – from the most “important” person to the least important. You are as valuable as any other person on the planet, no more and no less. It’s about behavior and response based on goals, not emotions. You learn to simply turn off or reprogram the competitive reflex in situations where it is not productive.

Embarrassing moments don’t shake your foundation because you know that you are no better than anyone else, like no one else is better than you. You know that you are not the first to make a fool of yourself, and you know that you are not the last. Your awkward moments are nothing more than a good story to tell in the future.

People don’t think about you as much as you think. What was a terrifying experience for you is a trifle for them; will most likely be forgotten after a few days or weeks. They have their own awkward moments to worry about, their own lives to focus on. Show a little humility, and you will realize that all your stupid actions do not matter much. What matters is how you handle it. Will you take the matter calmly, with humility? Or will you blow things up a lot more than they should be? Let go, you are human. Life keeps moving forward, so do yourself a favor and try to move with it.

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