How to Deal With Embarrassment

Three Methods:Dealing with Embarrassing SituationsDealing with Past EmbarrassmentsUnderstanding Embarrassment

Everyone gets embarrassed at some point in time because everyone makes mistakes. Embarrassment may be the result of unwanted attention, a mistake, or being placed in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. You may feel like you want to hide away until the embarrassment passes, but there are better ways to deal with embarrassment. You can try to understand your feelings of embarrassment better, learn to laugh at yourself, and be compassionate to yourself when you become embarrassed.

Method 1
Dealing with Embarrassing Situations

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    Evaluate the situation. How you handle an embarrassing situation depends on what has happened to embarrass you. For example, if you did something wrong, like made an inappropriate comment to a friend, you may feel embarrassed because you should not have said what you did. But if you feel embarrassed because you did something by accident, like tripping and falling in front of a large group of people, that is a different situation. Each situation requires a slightly different approach to overcome the feelings of embarrassment.[1]
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    Apologize if necessary. If you did something wrong, you will need to apologize for your mistake. Having to apologize might make you feel a bit more embarrassed, but it is necessary to deal with the original embarrassment and move forward. Make sure that your apology is sincere and direct.[2]
    • Try saying something like, “I am sorry that I did/said that. I didn’t mean it. I will try to be more thoughtful in the future.”
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    Forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up. After you have apologized (if it was necessary), you need to forgive yourself for what you did or said. Forgiving yourself is an important step in dealing with embarrassment because it will help you to stop beating yourself up. By forgiving yourself, you are sending yourself the message that you made an honest mistake and it is nothing to dwell on.[3]
    • Try telling yourself something like, “I forgive myself for what I did. I am only human and I am bound to make mistakes sometimes.”
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    Distract yourself and others. While you don’t want to ignore the embarrassing thing that you did or said, after you have evaluated it and dealt with the situation you should move on. You can help yourself and other move past the embarrassing thing by changing the subject or inviting them to do something else.[4]
    • For example, after you have apologized and forgiven yourself for saying something inappropriate to a friend, ask them if they watched the news last night. Or, pay them a compliment. Say something like, “Hey, I love your outfit. Where did you get it?”

Method 2
Dealing with Past Embarrassments

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    Reflect on your most embarrassing moments. While it may be painful to review the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to you, it can help you to put other embarrassing moments into perspective. Make a list of the top 5 most embarrassing things that have ever happened to you and compare them to your most recent embarrassment.[5]
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    Laugh at yourself. After you have made your list of embarrassing moments, allow yourself to laugh at yourself. Laughing at things that you done can be a cleansing experience. By looking at them as silly things that happened in your past, you can help yourself to move past feelings of embarrassment.[6]
    • For example, if you once walked through the lunch room with your skirt tucked into your underwear, try to laugh about the experience. Try to see it from an outsider’s perspective and remove yourself from the negative feelings. Realize that it was just a silly mistake that probably made people do a double take or possibly even a spit take.
    • Try discussing embarrassing moments with a trusted friend. It might make it easier for you to laugh at someone if you tell the story to someone who was not there and it can also be a good way for you to hear about someone else’s embarrassing moments.
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    Be compassionate towards yourself. If you can’t bring yourself to laugh at what you did, try being compassionate towards yourself. Acknowledge your embarrassment and talk to yourself like a good friend. Give yourself permission to feel embarrassed and understand the pain that that situation has caused for you.[7]
    • Try to remind yourself of who you are and what your core values are. This can help you to ground yourself and brush of some embarrassment and with self-compassion.
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    Focus on the present. Once you have comforted yourself through laughter or compassion, bring yourself back into the present moment. Recognize that the embarrassing moment is in the past. Try to focus your attention on what is happening in your life right now. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? Changing your focus to the here and now may help you to stop dwelling on things that happened to you in the past.[8]
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    Keep trying to be your best. Although embarrassment can be painful, it may also be useful for personal development. If you did or said something wrong that has caused you to feel embarrassed, think about what you can do to avoid doing or saying something similar in the future. If you made an honest mistake that could have happened to anyone, recognize that you did not do anything wrong and move on.
    • Try not to get hung up on what you did or said because dwelling on it can be more painful than the initial experience.[9]
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    Consider seeing a therapist. If you still cannot get past your feelings of embarrassment despite your best efforts, consider seeing a therapist for help. You may be dealing with something that requires ongoing work or your embarrassment may be related to other thinking patterns such as rumination or possibly low self-esteem.

Method 3
Understanding Embarrassment

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    Recognize that embarrassment is normal. Feeling embarrassed can make you feel like something is wrong with you or you are all alone, but it is important to remember that these feelings are not accurate. Embarrassment is a normal feeling just like being happy, sad, mad, etc. When you are feeling embarrassed, remember that everyone feels embarrassed at some point in time.
    • To see that embarrassment is something that everyone feels, ask you your parents or another trusted person to tell you about a time when they got embarrassed.[10]
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    Learn that it is okay if people know you are embarrassed. One of the worst things about feeling embarrassment is when people know you are embarrassed. Knowing that others know you are embarrassed can make feel even more embarrassed. This is because embarrassment makes you feel exposed or vulnerable due to the fear of being judged by others.[11] Unlike shame, which can be both a public and private event, embarrassment is mostly a public event[12].Try to remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with people knowing that you are embarrassed about something because it is a normal emotion.
    • One way to address the perceived judgement of others is to be realistic and ask yourself if others are judging you or if you are judging yourself[13].
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    Understand that some embarrassment can be helpful. While being embarrassed is never a fun experience, occasional minor embarrassment can be helpful. Some research has found that people who blush when they do or say something wrong may be seen as more trustworthy. This is because those people are demonstrating their awareness of social rules. So if you blush on occasion when you make a minor mistake, don’t dwell on it because it may actually make people see you in a more positive light.[14]
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    Consider the relationship between embarrassment and perfectionism. Perfectionism can contribute to feelings of embarrassment. You may be holding yourself to unrealistically high standards that cause you to feel like you are failing if you do not live up to them. These feelings of failure may lead to embarrassment, so it is important to set realistic standards for yourself.[15]
    • Remind yourself that you are your biggest critic. While it may seem like the world is watching and judging you, that is not a realistic perspective. Think about how much you pay attention to little things that other people say and do. It is unlikely that you scrutinize others the same way that you do to yourself.[16]
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    Think about the relationship between embarrassment and confidence. Confident people tend to experience less embarrassment than people who lack confidence.[17] If you have low self-confidence, you might experience more embarrassment or more severe feelings of embarrassment than you should. Try to build up your self-confidence in order to reduce the amount of embarrassment that you feel on a daily basis.
    • If you are extremely self-conscious, you may even find yourself dealing with shame, which is not the same thing as embarrassment. Shame is the result of a poor self-image, which can be caused by often feeling embarrassed.[18] Consider talking with a therapist if you feel like embarrassment has left you with feelings of shame.


  • Laugh it off with your mates. Act like it doesn't bother you and they won't think it's such a big deal.
  • Don’t obsess over little things. Minor embarrassments are nothing to dwell on. Try to brush them off and keep going.

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Categories: Overcoming Shyness & Insecurities