I do embarrassing things all the time. Wiping out in the middle of a crosswalk? Been there (more times that I would like to admit)! Walking around with deodorant marks on my black top? Sure. Totally misunderstanding what someone is asking me? Of course! The range of snafus is wide and the list is long. But what I don’t do? Walk around feeling all ashamed and humiliated most of the time. Chalk it up to having a mother who wasn’t afraid of making a public scene every now and again, but eventually I just stopped really caring what other people thought, especially when I’ve done something clumsy or a little odd. Here are 4 things that might help you cope next time potential humiliation knocks at your door.
1. Laugh or Apologize
If you’ve done something embarrassing to yourself, laugh at it. People will feel a lot less pity and a lot more admiration for how you handled the situation when they can laugh (at what is really probably a pretty funny situation) without you getting mad at them. It diffuses the tension from the situation when they’re waiting to see how you’ll react. Laughing works best when you’ve done something silly like trip in front of a crowd or tuck your skirt into your pantyhose. If you’ve done something that embarrasses you because you embarrassed someone else, like really putting your foot in your mouth in a meeting, the best route is apologizing publicly and immediately to show people that at least you realize your blunder. Then try to take corrective steps, and at the very least, just remember never to make that same mistake again.
2. Put it in Perspective
While it might seem like a world-ending humiliation in your eyes, to most other people, it’s a minor blip in one day where they’re really more preoccupied with their stuff. It helps to remember that most people (high school girls excluded) care more about their own lives than yours. If you don’t remind them of the embarrassing incident, they will probably forget in the time it took you to forget what the person sitting across from you on the subway was wearing.
3. Move Along
If you pick up acting normally like nothing happened, other people will take it as a cue that they should go back to normal business as usual as well. Even if you’re still cringing internally about how you could ever do such an embarrassing thing, regaining your composure, and pretending like you’ve gotten over it is the best way to deal until you actually have.
4. Remember that it Won’t Matter in 5 Minutes, Hours, Days or Months
I’ve found that most times I feel really humiliated in the moment, I end up describing the whole event in great detail a few days later to my friends with lots of laughs in between. While you might have to force the laugh when it’s happening, after the initial embarrassment has passed there’s usually a funny story there. And if your friends want to joke about it before you’re ready, a simple, “Too soon,” should quiet them down until you’re ready to laugh about it down the road. And trust me, eventually you will be.
How do you cope when you’ve done something really embarrassing?