Embarrassment sucks — how to deal

February 24, 2016

Stuck moment: Oh no, oh no, oh no. I can’t believe my sister thought it was okay to repeat that joke I made about my brother and his fiancée before they started dating. Right in front of her! WHY? We just sat down to eat. How am I supposed to look her in the eye now?

Embarrassment sucks. It really, really does. Everything about it: the blushing, the flushing, the dumb realization that there’s no way to play it cool. It seems like everyone’s staring at you, judging you, and the moment will be burned into their memories forever.

But it’s probably not as bad as you think.

Getting embarrassed is normal human stuff. It happens because we’re self-conscious. We have an idea of how to look good or do things right, and we feel like we’ve fallen short, by way of some mishap or misfortune that catches us off guard.

Something you say comes out horribly wrong.
A jealous coworker makes you target practice.
A case of bad judgment turns into undeserved public humiliation.

Sure, some people may laugh (they’re thinking, Phew, glad it wasn’t me!) and it will be salt in the wound, but generally people will sympathize. Because they too know how it feels to be embarrassed. We’ve all been there.

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.


  • 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 zen 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.


When we’re lucky, we recover in the moment. Other times, we have to deal with feeling clumsy and red-faced and find a way forward. Our printable chart, After First Blush, will guide you to a good follow-up for your embarrassing situation. Use it to trace your way to the beliefs and tips that will help you finesse the situation.

DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE: After First Blush: Embarrassed and ready to move on? 8 tips to try when embarrassment strikes

embarrassment tips

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