Making mistakes is part of life. But making mistakes in front of your peers, family, friends, or loved ones often brings a sense of embarrassment. Fearing this embarrassment will invariably cause you even more humiliation. Find out why and what you can do.
Embarrassment is the natural result of believing that others see you as a fool, stupid, or even obsolete. When boiled down to its most basic component, embarrassment is a feeling of rejection. That’s right—rejection.
When people laugh at us, snicker, point fingers, or do any other act of humiliation we feel rejected. It is the fear of rejection, more than the fear of being embarrassed that often paralyzes us from trying new things, venturing forth in life, and taking a stand different from the norm.
THE DANGERS OF FEARING EMBARRASSMENT
1. This fear will cause you to expect others to look for your mistakes.
2. This fear will cause you to make more mistakes.
3. This fear will prevent you from trying new things.
4. This fear will cause you to shy from involving yourself with others.
5. This fear will erode your self-confidence.
6. This fear will isolate you from friends and family.
7. This fear will weaken our desire to take a stand on things important to us.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT
The number one solution to overcoming this fear is to learn to laugh at yourself. When you are not bothered by your own mistakes, able to laugh at them, even joke about them, you will not really be worried about what other people think of your mistakes. Sometimes, when taking a stand on something important to you that the vast majority of people do not hold to, your ability to find humor in other people’s reaction is a key to the strength of your stand.
Let me illustrate. I’m a Christian and when in High School I decided to take a Bible to school every day. I knew I would be ridiculed and even mocked. But it wasn’t long before I found humor in these reactions. I realized that only insecure people mock things they don’t understand or like. I distinctly remember being cornered by three bullies and being ridiculed for carrying a Bible. I grinned (wickedly, I must admit) and slapped my large Bible in the chest of the lead bully and demanded, “Okay tough guy, if you are so brave, so tough, let’s see if you can carry a Bible around for a week. I dare you! Or are you chicken?” He stormed off, cussing at me, but I found great humor in the fact he didn’t have the strength to take a stand.
It’s about liking what you are doing and who you are more than what other people think you are. Self-confidence is not necessarily an innate trait; it can be learned and achieved. When trying something new, or being put into an uncomfortable situation, you need to attempt to lighten the mood—not only for yourself, but for those watching.
For example, I was asked once to make an impromptu speech in front of a group of strangers. Standing up, I walked to the front and announced. “Okay everyone, I am going to show you how to make a lousy speech with no preparation in front of an ugly crowd.” I pointed to the crowd. “You get to be the ugly crowd for this demonstration.” They laughed and I was not really worried about making any mistakes. I could just pin it all on an intentionally lousy speech. I could laugh and mock my own mistakes. Trust me, you never feel rejected under those circumstances.
Overcoming your fear necessitates that you become more comfortable with yourself. This is essential. Everyone cares what other people think. You just need to relieve your fear of rejection—of embarrassment.
I take strong stands on many things. I am a pastor, after all. But I do so with a humorous ease. For example, when standing with a man looking at some damage done by some teenagers, he used God’s name in an inappropriate way. I shook my head and said, “I disagree.” He said, “What?” I replied, “I disagree. I don’t think God cares enough about it to actually do what you want Him to do.” He blinked and then grunted, “Huh?” He got it and never did use God’s name in that way around me again.
Taking a stand for right or even making mistakes is not something to fear. It is a path to self-confidence and security.
Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.
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