Forgetting people’s names and unsightly sweat patches are among the most common faux pas that leave Britons blushing with embarrassment four times a day.
Tripping in public and getting food stuck between teeth are also humiliating moments that most try hard to avoid and one in seven say a relationship has ended because something embarrassing happened.
A study of 2,000 adults found that burping accidentally, stalling the car at traffic lights and having food on your face are among the top 50 most common moments that leave us red faced.
Terrible teeth: Discovering food stuck in between teeth is a common humiliation
Embarrassment is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’ve done something which you think will make you look bad.
Embarrassment is a self-conscious emotion felt by individuals after they commit a social transgression and that transgression is exposed to others in the group. This is evolutionary advantageous for humans as social animals, because social standards and rules need to be constantly maintained for a social group to function efficiently. Embarrassment not only makes the individual feel negatively about violating the social norm, but it also initiates a series of action tendencies that facilitate repair of social damages caused by the transgression. For instance, you can be embarrassed when you start addressing someone and then realize you forgot their name. Or, when you are on a very busy train and accidentally touch a stranger in an inappropriate place. However, you do not necessarily have to do something bad or stupid to be embarrassed.
If you feel it far too often or find your experience of it disabling, that’s not because embarrassment is inherently bad; that’s likely because you have social anxiety, a deep fear of the perceptions of others and how they can harm you. Embarrassment on its own isn’t a massive problem, so don’t fear it: understand it.
In a word, she was embarrassed. While embarrassment might jangle your nerves, there are ways to muster up the mental and emotional strength to put it behind you and be better prepared for next time.
Here are a few tips to use when you find yourself in embarrassing moment:
- Ask yourself: “How important is it in the whole scheme of things?” “What harm is done, who will suffer? What’s the worst thing that can come of this?” “ Is it correctable?” An objective common sense realistic answer will free you to move on.
- I have had my share of embarrassing moments. I, like most people hate making mistakes. The high standards I have set for myself will never change, however I have adjusted my expectations of always being able to live up to them in some aspects of my life.
- If you embarrass yourself, get a jump on it. Defuse the awkwardness by addressing it before someone else does. A self-deprecating joke is a sure tactic, but if you’re too flustered to be witty, default to an immediate “oops” or “sorry” statement (“Oops, that was embarrassing!” “Sorry about that — obviously not what I meant to do.”) Smile and move on.
- If someone else embarrasses you, go to your moment place. It takes a lot of control, but don’t get defensive. The more neutral your reaction, the less power you give up — and the more obvious it will be that you don’t deserve to be treated that way.
- Think from an outside perspective: Seeing the wider picture can help you to judge whether or not the wrongs you committed are ones which truly trap you into feeling embarrassed. Embarrassment is sometimes (not always) unnecessary, and you need not live your life as prisoner to it. To see whether this is true, try these tricks to open up your perspective on the issue.
- It’s a common mistake: Seeing the wider story can often reveal that yours is a mistake made by many, and this can act as a great starting point for finding the courage to uncover your embarrassment or shame to others.
- Who’s the judge: Looking at the issue from outside yourself can help you examine the standards by which you are judging your mistake. Every mistake is simply a failure to live up to a set of expectations you have for yourself, or that others have for you. It is important to discover who you believe you are disappointing, what the rules were that you broke, as well as what high standards you did not achieve.
What you and I need to remember is that everyone suffers from shame or embarrassment in their lives. When you keep in mind these feelings are universal, there is no longer any reason to hide.