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Embarrassment: Joyce Hull LCSW

CATEGORIES: Supervisee's Perspective

Oct, 13 2017


Embarrassment ranges from the simple act of tripping over your own feet in the parking lot; to being full-blown mortified when asking someone when she is expecting, only to discover she isn’t really pregnant! We all face moments of embarrassment from time to time. But people handle the emotion very differently. For some of us we are able to just laugh it off while for others it can cause a temper outburst and perhaps even rage with others or ourselves. Some will significantly alter their behavior to avoid the individuals around them that would potentially remind them of their miscue, or the circumstances that caused the situation, forever. How do you handle moments of embarrassment?
Embarrassment is defined as the emotional state of being made self-consciously uncomfortable. But for those that generally feel self-conscious, embarrassing situations can become debilitating. Such individuals are more at risk to feel embarrassment. Ideally, it would be great to be able to just “laugh off the experience” but for many this is a skill that must be learned and practiced. I recall an embarrassing situation that, for me, turned into a traumatic experience that seemed funny to everyone but myself. It took a year to be able to laugh about it, and now years later I’m able to write about it. I was at school, in class, when a pair of underwear apparently stuck in the pant leg of my jeans fell out in front of everyone. At the time, I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never attend class again.
It took time, but I worked through it and here are some of the things I learned. Everyone likes the feeling of laughing, regardless of the source. For those that are self-conscious it is easy to confuse people laughing at a situation as a personal attack on your character. Step back and look at the situation from someone else’s shoes. People are generally compassionate and not judging you as much as they found humor in the situation. It may seem difficult, but share your story instead of hiding it from the world, locking it up inside you will turn a molehill into a mountain. Practice laughing at yourself when you have little mistakes, and don’t judge yourself while you laugh, laugh because of what is humorous – that you did something you never would have intended to do. It is kind of like the commercial “we’re only human”. Be realistic with yourself, we all make mistakes.