Feeling Embarrassed


Lately, I have been telling people about the benefits of dried grapes. Why? I’m raisin’ awareness. This video will definitely create a wrinkle. Let’s break out of the little red box. 

Last week, we covered the difference between feelings and emotions. Let’s talk about embarrassment. Unprocessed and unexpressed embarrassment can lead to shame. The mental toughness myths create this, because they say to hide everything. 

The emotion of embarrassment serves a purpose for us. Think of your most embarrassing moments. Embarrassment makes us aware of other people watching. The evolutionary purpose is to stay within the norms of our groups. Centuries ago, if a person acted outside of the norm, it could endanger lives. Shame led us to stop.

In today’s world, most of our embarrassing moments don’t lead to danger. They just create the uncomfortable. But for most of us, we can give compassion when others feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

I worked with a young athlete who said they didn’t like their coach because when they lost, he told them they were an embarrassment to their entire town. 

First, that’s not accurate. Second, it labels the feeling as bad.

Telling someone they are an embarrassment is a hook. Feeling embarrassed means just that. It’s a moment, and then it’s over. It’s temporary. Feeling embarrassed does not mean you are an embarrassment. 

That’s the wrinkle that causes problems. We get fused to what we feel. Feeling crazy doesn’t mean you are. Feeling scared doesn’t mean you are weak. Feeling incompetent doesnt mean you are.

So what’s the adjustment?

  1. Accept that what you feel is information. 
  2. Remember it’s temporary — nothing lasts forever. Sometimes I view it as the scroll of scores on a TV screen. It comes and goes.
  3. Recognize and be aware of when you fuse with your emotions and shame yourself. Defuse. Tell yourself that you’re feeling embarrassed, instead of that you are embarrassed. 
  4. Like we talked about last week, change or interrupt the pattern. Too often, we believe our emotions need to be decoded, because they are sending us secret messages. Usually, they are not.

If you can separate feeling embarrassment from being an embarrassment, you can own up to what you did and problem solve. If you don’t, you risk doubling down and creating a spiral that distances you from others and reality.