As the mental toughness trainer, one of the core fears I assist people to clear is the fear of embarrassment.
You overcome it by mastering it instead of fearing it. Well then, let’s learn how to overcome embarrassment by first taking it apart and understanding it.
A good chunk of why we are afraid of things is because they fall into the realm of the unknown. If we don’t understand something and think it could harm us, well, that doubles the fear of that thing, right? We are going to have a fear about things we don’t want to happen to us, but it’s much worse when we have no idea how to deal with it if it ever occurs.
And, If we don’t understand something, we can’t do anything about it if and when it happens to us. This is the essence of many fears….the unknown.
Embarrassment is an emotion that you can master like all emotions!
In my RACE formula, the E. stands for Emotional Mastery. When working with athletes and performers, my certified mental toughness trainers know and teach their clients that a big part of what interferes with their performance are their fears which cause nervousness, tension, and negative thinking.
…and so you are going to get a small piece of that here and that begins with:
What is the meaning and what causes embarrassment?
For starters, embarrassment is an emotion so let’s go there and dissect emotions.
A very powerful new science called: psychoneuroimmunology pioneered by Candace Pert and written about in her book – The Molecules of Emotion discovered the biology of emotions.
In drastically simplifying her book and science, emotions are states where specific natural chemicals (peptides) get released in our body. These chemicals are made of molecules that belong to the molecular family of “ligands” (molecules that bind).
These chemicals bind to the cells of our body and communicate to the cells of our body to “do something.”
That “do something” is ultimately what we call a FEELING. That is, a bodily feeling. So what biologically happens when we are embarrassed is that some chemicals get released and then your body experiences it in such ways as:
blushing (blood rushing to the face)
hurt feeling in your gut or anywhere or everywhere over your body.
brain thinking all sorts of negative thoughts
It can be different for everyone but it’s usually very uncomfortable and we dislike it intensely which is why we fear it and want to learn how to overcome it. Stay with me and we’ll get there!
Why do we get embarrassment?
There is a valuable reason why we get any and all emotions. Emotions, including being embarrassed, are a form of internal communication from your inner (unconscious) mind to your conscious mind to let you know how you are doing RELATIVE TO YOUR BELIEFS and VALUES.
We get fun emotions as a message that we are on track. We get difficult emotions, like embarrassment and it’s cousins shame and guilt, to tell us we are OFF track with respect to our values.
Difficult emotions, like embarrassment, are a message to take some kind of corrective measure to get back on track with your values (beliefs)!
The specific OFF TRACK message you are getting from embarrassment is that you have made some sort of mistake and you need to correct it and not make it again.
What would happen if we DIDN’T get embarrassed when we made mistakes that go against our values? Think about that so you can start to appreciate the value of embarrassment, shame and guilt and therefore,
NOT FEAR THEM!
How to handle embarrassment
The 2nd part of clearing fear of embarrassment is to gain the belief that YOU CAN HANDLE IT when it happens.
The video (and script) below are a clip from my mental toughness academy for youth sports. It’s a simple, yet very effective lesson on how to stop embarrassment in it’s tracks. Kids need simple explanations and tools from my experience and here is what works:
Whenever you are experiencing some difficult chemicals giving you a difficult feeling, all you have to do is think about something else OTHER than the thought that caused the chemicals to be released. If you do this, the Chemicals will always go back to where they came from! And you will be DONE WITH THE FEELING VERY SOON. This is the way on how to stop embarrassment.
And when you’re done with the feeling, you can then easily go on and work toward fixing the thing that went wrong for you in the first place. In sports, that means to go back to hard work and practicing your skills and what I’m teaching you here in the Mental Toughness Academy. So you become better and wiser for the next time something like this could happen! That’s why you get the chemicals in the first place! To help you improve your life!
Eliminating negative thoughts – the best way on how to overcome embarassment
Now, a little warning here….you send the chemicals back to where they came from doing what I just taught you. But you can again think the embarrassing thing that caused the embarrassment chemicals to get released and you will get the feeling all over again. And you can keep thinking that thing and keep releasing those chemicals and stay in those feelings…as long as you want. And if you do, you will keep feeling bad.
But why would you want do that? Why would you want to feel those difficult embarrassment feelings all over again? You don’t have to! All you have to do is to think something else, like your last vacation, your dreams, your favorite things to do, or just about anything else… and the chemicals will be done doing their business and you will feel good again. It’s that simple.