Adolescents and Embarrassment
Parents, please invite your kids to read this article about how to cope with embarrassment and then discuss it together.
Let’s talk about embarrassment. The emotion of embarrassment is uncomfortable. You can feel your face blush with redness. Ears ring and your pulse rate increases. You feel brainless. Beads of sweat may form on your forehead and under your armpits. Your head hangs and your eyes stare at the ground. Others are not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you.
Individuals react in different ways. Some people laugh at themselves and the situation. Others may react with anger and insult the person who embarrassed them or throw glaring looks of vengeance. You may desire to run away from the situation and cry because you feel hurt or clam up and pout. You may use profanity and stomp off in frustration. Others may escalate the situation until someone throws the first punch.
The person who embarrassed you may have been a family member, a friend, a peer, a classmate, teacher, or a stranger. Their motives could have come from malice, humor, or other intentions. Wow! They tuned into an area of sensitivity and poured salt into your trigger wounds. Some teasing, however, is good-natured and is common among friends and peers.
Being embarrassed in front of a group of people can be an overwhelming experience. Some moments we find laughable or funny at a later date and some moments are so painful, we store them away in our memories forever. However, we can learn coping skills for embarrassing situations.
It is a reality that embarrassing incidents will happen. Make a plan to manage your emotions before you experience embarrassing situations. We’ve all felt embarrassment and we can live through it.
Talk with adults and ask how they manage embarrassing moments. Interview your school counselor and ask her or him about coping skills and self-management tools to express and process emotions that are connected to situations of embarrassment. Ask peers about their most embarrassing moments.
Make a list of all the emotions you experience when you feel embarrassed. Often times our emotions are a combination of various feelings; hurt, rejection, anger, fear, and sadness. Feelings are temporary and feeling embarrassed does pass. Describe an incident when you expressed and processed the emotion of embarrassment. List your options when you are in an embarrassing situation.
Our feelings are housed inside our brain in an area called the Limbic System. Emotions give us energy and passion to live our lives. Human beings need emotions, but part of maturing is learning to manage the feeling of embarrassment.
Being embarrassed is temporary. Everyone gets embarrassed at times. Use your brain instead of your fists when you feel disrespected. Anger is a powerful emotion and motivates us to protect ourselves and others from danger and harm. However, we need to learn to manage anger. Describe an embarrassing experience where you were able to manage your anger.
You can learn to manage embarrassment without hurting yourself or others. Talk with a trusted adult about it. Talk to your parents about counseling services if needed.
This article is not addressing the embarrassment and humiliation from consistent incidents that involve bullying behaviors. Children and teens need to seek adult intervention immediately when bullied by others.
Dr. Missy, Ph.D., is a feelings helper, child therapist, consultant, educator, and self-syndicated columnist. She provides therapeutic services at Affirmations, Columbus, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.