Nobody likes to experience embarrassment. Yet, it seems to be part of the reality for most of us.
Embarrassment impacts some people more than others. Some individuals with self-esteem challenges actually curtail interaction with others so as to avoid experiencing embarrassment.
One common error with respect to embarrassment is the notion that someone can embarrass you. We say to our children, “Don’t embarrass me in public!”
The reality is that embarrassment takes place when what is revealed is not in keeping with the image we try to or want to present.
The child’s unruly behavior causes us to choose to be embarrassed because we would like to portray the image of a parent who is able to properly discipline our children. If that were to be true then the episode would not be occurring or would it?
If we accept the reality that our kid behaves in this socially unacceptable way in private and in public then we are faced with another reality. If further, we accept that we are at our wits end working to correct this behavioral issue, then we are better served by seeking help than by being embarrassed. Being embarrassed reflects a sense of “Oh, no! I have been found out.” It produces a sense of shame.
There is a subtle difference between accepting the need for corrective action and being embarrassed – feeling ashamed.
For example, one parent will use the temper tantrum display to reinforce their commitment to getting help if necessary to correct the behavioral challenge.
The parent who chooses the route of embarrassment, either puts on a sheepish grin and beats a hasty retreat or enters into a stern attempt at discipline that is more designed to save face than to achieve any sustainable behavior modification in the child.
When our reality is not what we want others to know, we feel embarrassed. If we are comfortable with “what is” then we feel no discomfort when it is exposed. This relates to our financial situation being shown to be less stable than we would like others to know. Or, our actions being out of step with the value system that we claim to live by.
For example, the professing Christian who is caught in a blatant lie often chooses to be embarrassed. A more useful response would be to recognize the failing and to pray for guidance in avoiding future occurrences.
The so-called “expert” whose competence is found wanting can choose to be embarrassed or can view the incident as a wake-up call to go and get the requisite training.
The next time you feel embarrassed, spend a moment in reflection to identify what reality has been exposed that is not in sync with the image that you would like to portray. Make a commitment to correct the situation.