Have you ever felt embarrassed? Are all of your friends in relationships and you often don’t go out with them because you feel like you’re a third wheel?
Have you ever said something and just blurted it out and you hear yourself saying this crazy thing and go “What was I thinking?”. You feel that warmth in your cheeks and you feel like everyone’s looking at you!
Maybe you feel you don’t have the same standard of job that everyone else has, or your friends get raises all the time and you feel like you’re still in the same place you were five or ten years ago and everyone else is improving and you’re being left behind!
I’ve worked out, everyone feels like that! Even the people you don’t think would. They do!
It’s just that you can’t teleport yourself into their heads to feel the comparisons they’re making to you all the time too! That’s right, to you!
Have you ever had your kids misbehaving in the super market or seen someone else’s misbehaving and you can feel the look of all the other people glaring? “What must they be thinking?”, you say to yourswhelf, and then the embarrassed feeling follows.
What if I told you that embarrassment happens because of the comparisons we all make every second of every day inside of our own minds, and has very little to do with how well we’re actually doing in life.
Everyone feels embarrassment at times, no matter how good they are in their jobs, or in their relationships, or as a parent, because everyone is always unconsciously comparing themselves to others.
What if you could do a couple of simple things to prevent yourself from feeling embarrassment? Just a simple tool, that may just move you straight out of that feeling. You could call it your secret weapon!
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What is embarrassment?
Every second of every day, we are making these comparisons in our mind. Now, just for a second close your eyes! I want to show you something. Think of your car. What colour is it? Now what about the top you’re wearing? What colour is it? Pick something that’s really, really easy!
Some of us can see this clearly and others of us can’t. Either way is just fine, it’s the first time you’ve done it! What’s important is that if you tried, you’ve done the first step and that’s awesome. High 5!
Now, when we feel embarrassed it’s because we’ve created a picture inside of our head, just like the colour of your car, but usually a more complex like our height or our weight. But instead of just noticing, we wonder what someone else thinking about that , or we have a conversation with ourselves in our heads about it. The important thing is to realise in this process is that we’re comparing ourselves to someone else.
Usually we do this by making up a picture of what we think someone else is thinking (which of course isn’t accurate because we’re not mind-readers right?) and comparing it to a picture of how we feel about ourselves in that moment (and if we’re embarrassed we’re probably not feeling so good about ourselves).
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What you’ll find is that when we feel embarrassed, we’re usually saying or thinking less than good thoughts about what someone is thinking about us, rather than the best case scenario.
This all happens in a heartbeat, in a second, without you even realising that you’re doing it. All you recognise is the end bit.
The embarrassed feeling!
Then even worse, sometimes we compare ourselves against ourselves! You look at where you could be; a better job with meaning and purpose; kid’s that don’t play up (yeah right, it’s what kids do); the perfect partner (ticks all the boxes right, all the time).
In fact, when we compare ourselves to ourselves, we usually compare ourselves to a “perfect” picture! A perfect, sometimes unrealistic, version of ourselves.
Are you a bit of a perfectionist? Maybe not out here in the real world, but in your mind? When we compare ourselves to ourselves we can be a bit too hard on ourselves. I bet you do that sometimes too!
Have you ever walked past a shop window and felt embarrassed for a moment because the reflection of the window doesn’t’t match the picture inside of your head? In that moment, Stop!
Rather than looking for all the things that don’t match your picture, ask yourself what does? What can you be proud of about yourself or what can we admire? Or if you can’t do that yet, what can you be ok with? Just a little thing! I do have quite a cute smile, or I love these shoes! Anything simple! Right now, here in this moment, even if your hair is sticking up or your clothes aren’t right or maybe your weight isn’t at that absolutely perfect weight.
There is nothing wrong with improving ourselves and being motivated to change things, but being embarrassed doesn’t help move us in that direction, it holds us back, it prevents us. First we have to have a good look and sometimes be proud of ourselves before we get to work.
Out in the world, we’re not always applauded for the good things we do. Sometimes we’re even pulled down for standing out and doing well, or dancing in the street with happiness “Why are they so happy?”.
What people are saying about Emotion Academy:
"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
Why I want to help!
I used to be really overweight, 30kg overweight actually. I didn’t like the way that I looked. I didn’t go to the beach and put on a bikini. I was embarrassed to show my body.
The thing is, now I’m a little different. I lost some weight, but it wasn’t because . The reason I lost the weight is because I changed how I felt about my body, like you can with everything in your life. Your job, your relationship status, your lifestyle.
It’s not that we should accept the things we don’t want, it’s just that it makes more sense to find useful comparisons; comparisons that inspire us instead of ones that demotivate us. By starting with little steps, baby step comparisons, things that we can achieve easily, we’ll start to get momentum and things start to change!
I was single for a long time and I commonly didn’t want to hang out with my friends who were in relationships because I felt embarrassed about tagging along and being the third wheel.
They were doing all of this couple stuff and I thought since I’m single I should be doing single stuff, but you know what… they never minded. It was the pictures inside my head about what they were thinking that stopped me. All they wanted was for me to be around. They appreciated me for me, not my relationship status, but it took quite a bit of bravery for me to talk to them about it.
Same in my work life. I was a waitress for a long time and that’s sometimes not regarded as the most highly sought after career in most people’s eyes, at least that’s what my thoughts and pictures were saying.
How I stopped comparing myself to others!
One day I finally had the bravery to really talk to some people. To find out what their pictures were in relation to mine. What I realised was that my pictures and thoughts were totally off. They weren’t accurate at all! They told me positive things about that I didn’t even know about me. And I found out they sometimes compared themselves to me an thought I was better at this and that.
By asking other people for perspective, I was able to see things really differently. The coolest thing was, I started to get a different perspective on who I was comparing myself to. It’s interesting how much I was comparing myself to people in magazines, or people on TV, famous people…or at least the images they project through media. I’d think of all the famous people and say to myself “I’m just not good enough”.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
If I saw them on the street, I’d be embarrassed saying hello to them because who am I? I’m Melisa, I’m no one. But then after talking to people, I started to think well, actually maybe we’re more alike than I think, because I’m pretty sure that they have the same body as me. They are human, they have to go to the bathroom, they have to eat, they have to do all that basic stuff. Same as me.
Whether you compare yourself to a famous person or just a friend or family member, or someone at work, as soon as I started thinking about how these people are probably doing the same things that I do every day (putting on their socks, having a shower, brushing their teeth and doing the same things I do every day) the embarrassment decreased. I started looking for the similarities instead of differences.
I imagined them making a cup of tea or coffee, going for a walk or playing with their kids and every time I thought about the similarities it started change my perspective… not just about them, but how I was thinking about myself. What is there to be embarrassed about when we compare our similarities instead of our differences.
It’s amazing when we interact with other people how much of our lives are edited out. We only see the image of a person, not the reality of a person. I’m sure even famous people say the wrong things all the time, or do goof ups, but a lot of the time its edited out of a movie or a TV show. Even in our own lives, other people are unlikely to notice our mess ups or goof ups as we see everything about our self, 24 hours a day when others see, but a snap shot.
The tool I use most these days, the thing that made the biggest difference for me, is something I’ve used for years to change my perspective. I call it “Fly On The Wall”.
When you’re about to feel embarrassed, you catch yourself, right in that moment or very soon after.
I imagine myself as a fly on the wall looking in on the situation that I felt embarrassed about. Literally seeing myself through the eyes of a fly sitting on the wall, seeing the conversation I was having from a third party’s perspective… and flies don’t judge right? Then I’d fly into the body of the person I was speaking to and see it from their perspective. By doing this, it separated me and gave me some distance from the situation that I was in, the conversation I was having, or the action I just did that made me feel embarrassed.
For example, if I was feeling embarrassed about walking into the gym, as soon as I took the perspective of a fly the wall, suddenly the situation felt different. The embarrassment didn’t disappear, but it was enough for me to keep moving forward. It opened me up and made me realise that most people who walked into the gym for the first time, even the fittest people in the room had certain things they were embarrassed about in their life. They had to walk through that door of facing embarrassment and become a new person at some point in their life and I wasn’t any different to them.
So, rather than being stuck at the door and letting the feeling of embarrassment overwhelm me, I used this tool. I took myself out of that situation, looked in on myself or the situation, got a bit of perspective and asked myself another question that was more useful, and I got real with what was actually going on.
From then on, if the kids were embarrassing me in the supermarket, so long as they were safe, I would shift my perspective and be that fly on the wall. Maybe those other kids that I perceive as perfect, scream and yell sometimes too. Maybe, just maybe, everyone’s kids play up at some point.
My job is to deal with this moment, just this moment first. As I deal with more and more moments I get strength and things don’t so easily embarrass me anymore.
So, for me it came down to perspective. Next time you feel embarrassed, next time when you’re in a situation where you blurted out something you didn’t expect, when you say something that seems completely out of character or is even a little crazy and you can’t believe you said it out loud… shift your perspective. Become that fly on the wall and when you get really good at this, you may even have a laugh to yourself. These days I find myself laughing (in a good way!) at my silliness all the time.
If you can’t laugh yet, just do your best. Remember most people don’t even have the courage to be in that room in the first place, at that difficult meeting or going to the gym for the first time. Everyone feels a little embarrassed the first time we do something and the trick is to remember;
The first time you do something you’ll be okay at it, you won’t be perfect, but over time you’ll get better and the more you apply this, the faster you’ll improve.
So next time you go on a date, the next time you say something stupid or the next time you’re in a situation where you might feel embarrassed, change perspective! Become the fly on the wall or even just consider what’s going on for the other person.
They may be embarrassed about something too. Either in this moment or a few moments ago, maybe they are still thinking about something they did yesterday, that they are still feeling weird about.,
Most importantly remember, everyone gets embarrassed.
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