A Handbook for Life Center Blog

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Are You Embarrassed By This?

What is it that you are most embarrassed about in your life? Is it something you did? Maybe it’s the way you think you look or the way you think you sound when you’re talking to other people. I recently wrote an article about the fear of failure and in it I said that I think many people’s fear of failure is actually a fear of embarrassment.

What is embarrassment? The dictionary definition of embarrassment is: to feel self-conscious or ill at ease. We all have an image of ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others. Sometimes we’re afraid of what other people will think when we do or say something that does not quite meet the image we have of our perfect selves.

What most people don’t understand is that embarrassment is only a state of mind, and in my opinion you can control whether or not you are embarrassed by a situation. It would be very easy for me to let myself be embarrassed when I am speaking to others, either in a group or one on one. I have Parkinson’s disease (PD) and it causes me to not only shake, but also sway from side to side. Sometimes the Parkinson’s symptoms are worse than others, but I can always tell that they’re there.

I used to be self conscious about my PD symptoms until I received some excellent advice from Lou Solomon, founder of Interact Authentically in Charlotte, NC. Lou’s main focus is on helping people find their authentic style. She told me about an executive who was taking one of her public speaking courses. The executive had a problem. Whenever he made a presentation he would become emotional. His voice would crack and it seemed like he would begin to cry. He found this quite embarrassing and out of place for a business environment. Lou’s advice to him was not to be embarrassed by his condition, but to embrace it. As soon as the executive stopped trying to make excuses for his behavior he was able to embrace his emotions and make a connection to his audiences.

As a teenager I experienced embarrassment of a different kind. When I was 19 years old I was hit by a car and severely fractured my left leg. As a result I had six operations including four skin grafts. My left leg was severely scarred and I had scars on my thigh from the donor sites of the skin grafts. As you can imagine, I was very self conscious about being seen in shorts or a bathing suit when I was in my early twenties and single. Eventually I came to the realization that I couldn’t change the way my leg looked and that I didn’t owe an explanation to anyone. As the saying goes, “I realized that it is what it is.” There was no reason for me to be embarrassed about something that I couldn’t change and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about how it looked.

Take a look at what is embarrassing you in your life. What is it you are not doing because you’re afraid of what other people will think? Don’t let embarrassment hold you back. Be proud of your authentic style. As long as you are doing your best you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Remember, nobody can make you feel embarrassed without your permission.

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