Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

10 Real Ways to Overcome Embarrassment

I recently wrote a post for on overcoming embarrassments. You can find it here. I’ve excerpted from it below.

There’s a reason why we say we’re dying of embarrassment. Because while we’re in the midst of an embarrassing episode, dying really does seems like the better option. No human being I know is immune from them; however, I seem to have a knack at collecting a large variety. After a recent incident that made me want to hide in a corner of the world without Wi-Fi, my writing and spiritual mentor gave me great advice. “It’s okay to be embarrassed,” he said. “It’s cleansing. This one has already passed, and passed nicely, like a kidney stone after the first day. You may relax.”


Of course that didn’t stop me from feeling embarrassed some more. So after collecting some nuggets from friends and professionals, I compiled these 10 ways to really deal with embarrassment in real life. I hope they help you feel better the next time your client, colleague, or date tells you that you’re wearing toilet paper on the sole of your shoe.

1. Keep the right tense.

All embarrassment takes place in the past. Theoretically, if you were able to stay in the moment perfectly, you wouldn’t feel an ounce of embarrassment – because all those messages inside your brain belong to a different time and place. Now I realize being present to the moment is virtually impossible when you are experiencing that twisted knot inside your stomach that says things like, “You can’t be trusted with anything, you idiot!” and are feeling the physiological symptoms of embarrassment (somewhat like the flu), but if you can remember for even a minute here or there to pull your attention to the present, you will be relieved of needless angst.


2. Stop apologizing.

This one is counter-intuitive for me. I honestly think that if I apologize I will return to feeling normal. Even if I have apologized like five minutes prior to that moment. I suppose I am an apology addict. “Just one more apology and I’ll feel okay.” No. You won’t. In fact, you will feel worse. Because, again, your attention is on the past, not on the present, where you don’t need to apologize for anything. So stop it already.

3. Be you. Neurotic you.

St. Francis de Sales had four words of advice for pursuing spiritual excellence: “Be you very well.” That even goes for neurotics, like me, who wear their psychiatric charts on their sleeves, and are so transparent that every thought they have is registered like a bulletin on their faces. I supposed when you are made that way – or, rather, if you choose to live that way – you will experience far more embarrassment than, say, a person who tucks away her emotions for only safe people to see. But if Francis is right, that’s the price I have to pay for being me.


4. Visit humiliations past.

This one will help you keep things in perspective. You know when you thought you really were going to die – or at least you wanted to? In hindsight, not a huge deal, right? As an exercise, you should list your top five embarrassments. Mine are:

  • Upon being prompted to tell “the thumb” joke to the Vice President of Doubleday, I proceeded to tell the wrong, very off-color one, which, I feared at the time, would kill our book contract.
  • At my first job out of college, I was the only one to dress up for Halloween. I went as the building security guard (borrowed the uniform and all), and only he thought it was funny.
  • Published on the front page of the Annapolis paper (on my birthday) was the story about how my two-year-old pushed another other two-year-old (the one that I was watching) into the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay only to be rescued by a passerby.
  • In line to purchase Notre Dame football tickets the first week of college, where a mob pushed their way forward, I was stung by a bee and, without my kit, had to call an ambulance.
  • I was almost arrested for sexual harassment my senior year at Saint Mary’s College because the creative but blunt note that I left for the director of the homeless shelter (as instructed by one of his good friends, mind you) was set on top of a set of lingerie some other woman had sent him. Thus he assumed I was the lingerie stalker.
  • To continue reading, click here.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kevin Keough

      Wow, that is so cool that one of your kids pushed another into the Chesapeake—a boy I imagine.

      And being the only one dressed up for Halloween as a security guard is a real hoot. Yo

      You are a true piece of work. Please share more of your embarrassing moments !

      Never let the truth get in the way of a good story: Truth is you were arrested for sexual harassment, right ?

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allison


      This post came at such a good time for me! Thank you, God, for interweaving Therese’s website and my life together! Yesterday I posted something on facebook that could offend clients and hurt feelings…and that wasn’t my intention at all, I was really making fun of myself! As soon as I realized how it could be perceived, I deleted it immediately, but it had been there a few hours…who knows WHO saw it?! Your post is full of words of life for me, because well, it looks like you’ve done the same and survived, have an awesome career of your dreams, and still live with depression everyday. You are my hero.

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment morvan

      when i went for a loan two bank managers were interviewing me It was a very hot day they put me to sit in front of a window the sun was very bright iwas on the change at the time and i could feel a hot flush coming on i couldnt say I am having a flush they thought I was anxious about the loan one of the men asked me if I wanted a tissue to wipe my face as I was perspiring so he went to look for one I could here him coming back saying oh my god I am so shamed
      when he came back he came with a roll of toilet paper apologising because that was all he could find
      They must have felt sorry for me they gave me the loan
      i could have died but now reading this i am really amused it wpold have been much easier if i had just said excuse me but I am having a flushh on reflection not sure about that

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment De

      Kevin- Where are you going with that?
      I admit that if these were the limits to my embarrassment quota, Id be mortified for her but, if this is the stuff that makes this person cringe, she has got some panty pissin episodes ahead no doubt. Wait til her lil Chesapeake gets arrested for murder or whoa should she apologize once more for a thumb joke????? ooooo God forbid
      What the hell is this crap anyway????? Get out more Therese or one day you’ll find yourself apologizing and agonizing for a hiccup, or fart or burp in front of your dog!! He doesnt give a bark!

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Stephen

      I like the post, but I feel like apologizing is very necessary if you have done something hurtful or inappropriate. It can bring some healing to a situation. I know excessive apologizing doesn’t help anyone, because once you apologize you need to act differently. This is some wisdom from my mother and grandmother that has never let me down. Make amends and then LIVE your amends. This means you stop doing what brings harm or pain to others and yourself. Nobody takes you seriously if you keep saying “I’m sorry” and yet, you keep doing the very thing you keep apologizing for.

      Thanks and God bless,

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment anna

      great read!!!!

    • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ajit

      I applied for a job with this ciggarette company which involved handing out samples..the money was good…but the problem was i dont in the interview..the guy took me out for a smoke and he handed me a ciggarette and a lighter and asked me to was horribly embarrassing when i couldn’t light it ! and i had to confess that i don’t smoke..reading this helps :) thanks

    Previous Posts

    Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
    “Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

    posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

    When Faith Turns Neurotic
    When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

    posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

    How to Handle Negative People
    One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

    posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

    8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
    For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

    posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

    Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
    In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

    posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


    Report as Inappropriate

    You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

    All reported content is logged for investigation.