7 Steps to Get Over Your Embarrassment

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Have you ever been so embarrassed that you wanted to hide? Do you cringe inwardly when you think about something embarrassing that you said or did? Learning how to get over embarrassment can help you continue working to be the best version of yourself.

We've all been there. Lucky for me, I’ve figured out ways to navigate the murky waters of feeling embarrassed… and in this article, I am going to teach you how to do the same and move past embarrassment so that you can get back to being your best you!

What Is Embarrassment?

Embarrassment is an upsetting experience that everyone has experienced. When you feel embarrassed, you may feel anxiety, guilt, or shame about something you said or did. Embarrassment can make you feel stupid or weird, even if you've done nothing wrong. Moreover, people who are genuinely self-conscious may feel embarrassed constantly. In some cases, embarrassment can linger for years if you don't work through it and move past it.

What are some of the things that can make people feel embarrassed? A number of different things can cause embarrassment.

  • Being bullied
  • Family traditions or behaviors
  • Doing things, you don't want to do but feel pressured to do
  • Your appearance
  • Perceived physical flaws
  • Rejection
  • Experiencing abuse
  • Failing publicly

The problem is that while embarrassment is a common human experience, lingering embarrassment is harmful to your health and psyche. Sometimes, embarrassment can even manifest physically and make you feel like you've been sucker punched in the gut.

When embarrassment and shame are a part of your everyday life, it will eventually cripple you and cause depression, anxiety, shame, and even physical illnesses. You can’t let it.

To help you overcome this feeling, I’ve identified 7 steps for how to get over embarrassment.

Step 1: If you made a mistake, own it.

The first step to getting over embarrassment is acknowledging the situation or mistake. Human beings tend to instinctively and automatically slip into denial mode, and most of us have witnessed this with public figures who make a mistake and do something that is embarrassing.

Here are some facts about making mistakes.

  • Our first instinct is often to deny that we made a mistake or even deny that we're embarrassed or ashamed, even if we are.
  • Human beings are biologically engineered to be afraid to show weakness.
  • Our caveman (and cavewoman) ancestors could be risking their lives if they showed weakness. Unfortunately, this instinct to portray confidence and denial in the face of embarrassment is a survival tool that hasn't caught up with more progressive thinking.

The first step to getting over your embarrassment is to acknowledge that you're embarrassed. It seems like a no-brainer, but it's incredibly difficult to just own up to your mistakes.

You can even share that you're embarrassed by what you did or said. Letting others know that you regret your mistakes can make you appear to be more humble and wiser.

Step 2: Acknowledge that it's OK to feel embarrassed.

Everyone who has ever lived has experienced embarrassment at one time or another. People are prone to saying things they don't really mean, making mistakes, and experiencing awkward social moments.

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Be as kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else who has done something embarrassing.

Embarrassment is normal, and if you can learn to cope with it in a way that's healthy, you will benefit from what you learn.

Make sure you're really suffering from embarrassment and not some other emotion. Here are some of the symptoms of embarrassment.

  • Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Pounding heart
  • Rumination
  • Fidgeting
  • Stuttering
  • Overthinking

Once you acknowledge that feeling embarrassed is a normal part of the human experience, you can do some things to help you stay calm as you process the painful emotions.

  • Stay calm by doing breathwork or meditating.
  • Remember that everyone makes mistakes and does things that embarrass them. Focusing on what you have learned from your mistakes can help you see them in a new light.
  • Do something nice for yourself that will give you a boost of happiness or self-esteem. Examples include getting a massage, cuddling with a pet, making yourself look your best, or buying a new book.
  • Get your mind off of your embarrassment. Watch a movie or spend some time with the positive people in your life. Anything you can do to get out of your head can give you some relief and help you to focus less on the embarrassment.
  • If the embarrassment is not your fault (bullying or abuse), talk to someone you trust, such as a therapist, family member, or close friend.

Step 3: Understand the spotlight effect.

The spotlight effect is a phenomenon that causes human beings to put themselves at the center of the world. When we do this, we automatically assume that everyone is looking at us and gawking at our mistakes. In short, we overestimate how much other people notice our mistakes, shortcomings, and even our physical appearance.

Keep these things in mind:

  • Believe it or not, other people are as self-focused as you are.
  • The people around us aren't as interested in us as we think.
  • Most people are just as wrapped up in their own lives and living in their own heads as you are, so there's a good chance no one even witnessed the incident you're so embarrassed about.
  • If people do notice your embarrassing moment, they likely don't see it as negatively as you do.

Think about this for a minute. When you see someone else make an embarrassing mistake, how much attention do you really pay to that person? Maybe you notice their mistake for a minute. You may even feel a momentary embarrassment for the person. Perhaps you feel compassionate towards them.

If the other person's mistake was something humorous, you might find it amusing in a non-malicious way. However, it's very unlikely that you are judging that person as much as they are judging (or will eventually judge) themselves.

Keep in mind that other people may not have even noticed the thing you're cringing over. Or, in some cases, something that embarrasses you doesn't faze them.

Step 4: Practice self-compassion and find humor in the situation.

Let's assume you're a caring individual. When you see someone else embarrass themselves, do you take delight in their misery? Are you going to go stand over them and push them further down into the dirt?

Probably not.

A high-quality person will feel compassion for someone who made a mistake. In many cases, good people will even reach out to someone else and remind them that everyone screws up occasionally.

If you're a high-vibration individual, you may even go help the embarrassed person out of the situation they've found themselves in.

With all of this said, let me ask you a question. Why aren't you practicing this same compassion with yourself?

It's much easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. Seeing other people as beautiful but flawed individuals comes naturally to most of us, but we beat ourselves down over mistakes that could happen to anyone.

Be as kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else who has done something embarrassing.

And if you're that type of high-quality person, you can probably find a way to put some humor into the situation. Certainly, if your embarrassment is caused because you unintentionally did some harm, it's not a laughing matter. But if you just made a common human error or did something embarrassing, you could diffuse the situation by laughing it off.

When we're embarrassed, other people are sometimes embarrassed for us. If we can laugh off our embarrassment, it will help others to let it go, too.

Step 5: Use your embarrassing moment to learn who is really in your corner.

When you do or say something that embarrasses you, take a close look around you. How do the people in your inner circle react to your mistake or shame?

In many cases, it's our friends and family members who cash in the most capital from the embarrassing moments we are trying to forget. While humor can sometimes be a good thing, the people who truly care about you will have your back, not drag you further into your angst and shame.

Remember the phrase, “I'm laughing with you, not at you”? You will automatically know if someone is truly laughing with you or at you, and there is a huge difference.

Anyone who takes glee in your shame or embarrassment has no place in your trusted inner circle. Full stop.

Someone who cares about you will do these things.

  • Caring people will help you get back up when you fall down.
  • Your true friends will remind you of the spotlight effect and tell you that no one else thinks the mistake is as big of a deal as you do.
  • They will defend you when others are attacking or shaming you.
  • The people who matter in your life practice what Dr. Stephen Covey called “loyalty to the absent.” Even if they're not with you, they're going to have your back when others try to drag you down.
  • They will only laugh at the situation if you're laughing at yourself, and even then, they will do so in a way that doesn't shame you further.

No one goes into a shameful situation with the intention of using it as a tool to weed out the negative people in their lives. However, you might as well use the incident to improve the quality of your inner circle.

Step 6: Have the tough conversations, and if you made a mistake, try to fix it.

In some cases, we can be embarrassed because of how we treated another person. Have you ever said or done something privately, only to be mortified when your mistake or bad judgment was leaked to outsiders?

Here are some examples.

  • Engaging in behaviors that we know are inappropriate
  • Speaking negatively or gossiping about another person
  • Betraying a confidence
  • Breaking trust
  • Cheating in some way that we don't want people to find out about, whether cheating on a partner, a test, or anything else
  • Boasting or saying cringe-worthy things and later regretting it

These are just a few examples, but any of these things can be deeply embarrassing situations. If we said or did something that was harmful in some way to another person, we have to try to fix it.

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One thing that can help you to put your current embarrassment into perspective is to review your past humiliations.

The thing about embarrassment is that we can automatically slip into defense mode. In fact, defense mode seems to be the default. If you can be humble and admit that you're embarrassed, people will usually gain a lot of respect for you.

Bridges can be mended, and most people want to be forgiving.

Step 7: Learn from your mistakes and move on.

When dealing with embarrassment, it's important to keep the tense correct. Language matters, and the words we use can profoundly affect how we process challenging experiences and emotions.

Embarrassment took place in your past. The minute you do or say the cringey thing, it's done. There is no need to dwell on it and being present can help you to process what happened in the past.

One thing that can help you to put your current embarrassment into perspective is to review your past humiliations. Maybe you can remember when you thought you would die of embarrassment. Chances are when you look back on these embarrassments, you realize they weren't that big of a deal.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? Keep in mind that in the future, there's a good chance you'll chuckle from your current embarrassing experience.

Here are some things you can do to move forward.

  • Get back on the bicycle (or horse, or whatever threw you off).
  • Make amends if necessary.
  • Be as compassionate and forgiving of yourself as you are with other people.
  • Stay present and mindful.
  • Remember that you'll be a better person for what you learned from the current situation.

When you're embarrassed, staying present in the moment can be extremely difficult. We are always harder on ourselves than we are on other people. However, if you can keep reminding yourself to be present, you can get rid of much of the angst you're feeling and keep moving forward.

Final Thoughts on How to Get Over Embarrassment

Once you know how to get over embarrassment, you can move forward and continue working to become the best version of yourself. Although it may not happen overnight.

It's necessary to go through these steps anytime you want to grow, and doing the work is totally worth it! In the end, you will enjoy better mental health, stronger physical self, and improved relationships. To help you gain more self-confidence, check out these 95 Self-Confidence Quotes to Create Inner Strength and Happiness.

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