Help me out - feeling embarrassed

Cringe!

Embarrassment is our natural reaction to uncomfortable situations that happen in front of others. It’s that cringing feeling that most of us get when something awkward happens and you feel like everybody is looking at you. Everyone feels embarrassed sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it can become a problem if it stops you doing things you want to do. So how do we deal with embarrassment?

What makes us embarrassed?

Lots of things can be embarrassing – it could be something unexpected, like tripping up in front of the entire class. It could be because of an awkward or mean remark someone’s made – especially if that makes other people laugh. It could be that you don’t feel confident at something, like playing football or speaking up in class – and that stops you from doing it.

Puberty can also be embarrassing, when your body and brain goes through lots of changes that can be difficult to talk about. It can be especially hard if you experience those changes later or earlier than other people.

Chavala talks about feeling embarrassed

What does it feel like?

You might blush if you’re embarrassed, and then feel all hot and bothered. You might go quiet or find it hard to speak. You might feel shy or even want to run away from the situation you’re in. You may even feel like crying. The good news is that we can learn to deal with embarrassment.

Dr Aaron talks about feeling awkward about body changes

Tips for dealing with feeling embarrassed

  • Remember that we’re all embarrassed at some point. It’s important to try to accept it, shrug your shoulders, and move on. Sometimes it even helps to laugh at yourself!
  • Don’t be ashamed to talk about it. Speak to someone about what happened; you’ll probably find your friends feel the same way and will share their embarrassing stories with you.
  • Don’t let a previous embarrassment stop you from trying something again. Try telling yourself ‘I can’ rather than ‘I can’t’. It’s a way of thinking that takes practice but can make you feel much more positive in new situations.
  • It’s important to take small risks and give things a go – even if you feel a bit nervous. Whenever you think that you can’t do something, try to push yourself just a little and give it a shot anyway. You don’t have to be perfect at everything, and hey, if the fear of being embarrassed is the only thing holding you back, is it really worth it?
  • When we’re going through puberty, it’s not just what we do that can feel embarrassing, but also what’s happening to our bodies, thoughts and feelings. Always remember that lots of other people are going through what you’re going through (or they will or they have done) – and have probably felt just as weird about it as you. You’re not on your own and what’s happening to your body and your brain is completely normal, so try not to let it hold you back.
  • Remember, getting embarrassed isn’t the end of the world, and people won’t remember it forever. Keep your sense of humour. OK, you can’t laugh and joke your way through every awkward moment in life, but if something cringey happens, try and laugh it off. Laughing at yourself is a great way of relieving tension – in yourself and others.

Finally, we all get embarrassed from time to time - that’s normal. But remember, with a bit of practice we can learn to overcome it, so it doesn’t stop us from enjoying life and doing all the things we like or want to do.

For information about organisations which can offer more advice on a range of issues, check out the advice helplines page.

You can also get loads more clips and tips on all kinds of emotions by checking out the Lifebabble guide to feeling good.

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