Embarrassment: 1. a) to cause to experience a state of self-conscious distress
Laughter: 1. a) to show emotion (as mirth, joy, or scorn) with a chuckle or explosive vocal sound; b) to find amusement or pleasure in something; c) to become amused; 2. to be of a kind that inspires joy
(Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary)
As person with an anxiety disorder I used to be embarrassed by the slighted mishap, or at least perceived mishap. I spent my entire 20’s being afraid of embarrassing myself and in many attempts to avoid being noticed I unintentionally drew attention to myself. Social anxiety uses a lot of energy and by the time I had reached my mid 30’s I realized that I didn’t have as much energy to waste on dreading social situations as I did in my 20’s. Eventually I decided to take that precious energy and use it towards laughter. I laugh every single day. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t find something to smile at or laugh at.
I don’t laugh at other people; that is junior high behaviour and I’m not interested in regressing into immaturity. I laugh about a lot of things that at one point in my life would have left me feeling devastated, embarrassed, and even ashamed. Now that I’ve discovered the power of laughing at myself I’ve experienced a major decrease in anxiety. Sometimes my humour is self-depreciating, but it is not the harmful type despite what some critics might say about this style of humour.
Sometimes incidents are less embarrassing than you imagine them to be. Think about Junior High and High School, I’m sure you had a few embarrassing moments, but did you die? No, you didn’t. You’ve probably forgotten most of the times you had felt embarrassed during your school days; and it will be the same in adulthood. Ten, twenty years from now you won’t remember most of the times you felt embarrassed in the past four months.
The interesting thing about embarrassment is that you only experience this feeling if others are involved. I hadn’t thought about this until recently but, people don’t get embarrassed about something when no one other than themselves are around. Sometimes embarrassment results from placing too much value on what other’s think about you or what you think others are thinking about you. The less importance you place on what other’s think about you, the less incidences of embarrassment you’ll experience.
I realized that sometimes embarrassment can be rooted in pride. Pride has a few different definitions:
- a) a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people; b) a feeling that you are more important or better than other people; c) a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc. (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Be careful not to allow a spirit that is not in line with the fruit of the spirit take root in you (Ephesians 4:26-27). No matter how embarrassing an event may be, you can overcome it. Use whatever method works for you: prayer, laughter, mindfulness, debriefing, talking about your feelings with someone close to you, etc.
The embarrassment comes from feeling “lesser than” others. Embarrassment can also lead to resentment, “Why did this happen to me and not _________?” It can also lead to spitefulness; that feeling of ill will towards others. When the feeling of embarrassment goes unchecked, emotions and actions that are not in line with how God wants us to behave can develop over time.
How do you typically handle moments of embarrassment? Do you respond to embarrassment with a godly response? When are you most embarrassed?
In prayer ask God to reveal to you any moments of embarrassment you’ve been holding on to emotionally. Ask God to help you overcome any unhealthy emotions related to that experience.