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Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

Rising Above Embarrassment: Holding Your Head High in Moments of Discomfort

Many years ago, I was at the center of controversy and vicious rumors were spread about me. I walked into an event and people who I had known for years publicly rejected me. When I was doing a talk for the event, people chattered and heckled in the background to drown me out. I was horrified at how I was treated by people who I thought cared about me and what people were saying. Nobody asked me about my truth; just assumed that what was said was true. It was a haunting scenario that took years to overcome and feel safe around those people. 

Embarrassment is the concern or distress about how other people perceive us. It could be based on a situation or interaction that gave other people a negative impression.  YouGov studied embarrassment and found that only 21% claimed to be intolerant to awkward situations whereas 34% said they were more tolerant and 34% were of average tolerance. Additionally, 26% saw themselves as being more awkward than the average person. Older people have a higher tolerance for awkward moments than younger subgroups.


With a great deal of work, I learned to let go of other people’s opinions. Embarrassment feels different for everybody. Whether it’s because of your own situation or stuck in the halo of someone else’s awkward encounter, we all have triggers. We also know ourselves and our intentions. You can certainly move on from being called out


Balm to get through those cringey moments

Hold your head high by knowing we all feel it


Everybody is holding their head high about something. What terrifies you might not be noticed by other people. Other people get embarrassed at things that don’t affect you and vice versa. Nobody is immune, but all have different triggers.


Hold your head high by realizing people really don’t care


Given that 68% of people seem to tolerate awkward situations, people are more compassionate than you think. Unless they are mean and petty, they will probably not care or empathize. Plus, everyone is so into their own world and personal struggle to notice yours.


Hold your head high by knowing that nobody knows the difference


When you hold your head up high, you look confident, despite how you feel. How do they notice the difference?  They certainly don’t.  You might even be admired for how you are handling something.


Hold your head high by understanding that if they really care, they don’t have a life


Consider the source. Anyone who gets their jollies from other people’s discomfort is clearly in pain. Most likely, they are people who don’t really matter in your life. Ignoring mean people is the best way to deal with them. It takes the fuel out of their fire.


What about you?


Which embarrassing moments do you need to let go?

Hi Beautiful Readers! Thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

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