Awkward. Learning to manage those embarrassing and awkward momentsDec 24, 2021
Aside from having a private practice, I have spent a lot of time at Yeshiva Ktana of Passaic over the last 13 years (hard to call it work when you love it!). One of my responsibilities included creating and overseeing a Social Skills program for the younger grades. Thanks to some amazing mentors of mine and lots of research, I learned a lot about the healthy development of social skills and emotion management.
One of the most difficult emotions to manage and uncomfortable parts of life is the emotion of embarrassment. Embarrassment is described as feeling self-conscious - feeling exposed in an uncomfortable way.
Learning to deal with embarrassing moments is a key part of maturing. Because, unfortunately, they happen. To all of us. Just when you don’t expect it!
Close your eyes and remember a time in your life that was cringetastic! (Btw, that’s a new age, cool word that means “the most cringeworthy.”) Think about what happened. Think about the way you felt. And the way others responded. Focus on which details jump out at you and which details you try your hardest to tuck away and never let resurface. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies record embarrassing moments?
I’m not sure why this is. But, as a young child, walking into the classroom with toilet paper attached to my shoe — comes up for me as extremely embarrassing. Am I alone in that? Definitely hugging the wrong mother’s legs has been etched into my embarrassing moment list. And definitely sending the wrong text to the wrong person — cringetastic!
I’ve found love notes on my kids’ desks at school orientation claiming their love for me (blushing )…. And then I noticed a tiny P.S. on the bottom: please don’t be embarrassing. Seriously. Why don’t they realize that I’m a cool mom? Somehow, their fear of embarrassment blocks them from this (totallyy obvious) realization!
For some people, it’s not just the big embarrassing events that they try to steer clear of - it’s some every day occurrences too. “OMG, that is soo awkward.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words…! Many of us, and especially younger kids, get easily embarrassed and feel super “awkward” quickly.
Let’s understand The Feeling of Awkward: It is a cousin to the Feeling of Embarrassment. Awkward is a complex social emotion when we fear that others may judge us negatively. It is what we feel when the situation threatens our goal of being accepted by others.
No wonder why our kids care about what we wear on Visiting Day!
So, what techniques can we learn to be able to manage these embarrassing and awkward emotions in a healthier, more comfortable way?
Research explains those of us who have a strong inner critic, and low self-confidence, feel the emotion of embarrassment in a harsher, more drastic way. But, those with a kinder, inner critic, and a healthier self esteem, can shrug things off much faster, and have an easier time dealing with embarrassing and awkward moments.
How can we soften our own inner critic? And how can we help our children with this?
Answer: By developing our Self-Love. Loving ourselves, being compassionate and nice to ourselves, not taking ourselves too seriously, using humor, acknowledging and being proud of our own positive qualities, and embracing who we are and forgiving ourselves for who we’re not. These are ways to develop a deeper love for ourselves and to soften our inner critic.
Plus, remembering that everyone has embarrassing moments (and embarrassing parents!) (except my children) helps. Working on ourselves, becoming proud of who we are, will help us work through those embarrassing moments.
Short Activity: Take a few moments. Write down what you love about yourself. At the supper table tonight, ask the people (all ages!) around you to write down things they love about themselves. Read them out loud. (Awkward? No! Let’s make that not awkward.) This self-love is critical, not just for managing embarrassment, but for developing empathy, compassion, self-esteem and healthy relationships all around.
Wait! There’s more. Get this.
Experts do say that there is an an upside to embarrassing moments: They make you more likeable! Plus, the ability to talk about your embarrassing moments make you real and approachable. And don’t we all want to be more real and approachable?!
So, I’ve decided to help our readers become more real. Because, that’s what I’m here for.
I’m going to compile an updated 2021 Embarrassing/Awkward Moment List!
Go onto www.ShifiLieberman.com/contact and send me a message with your awkward/embarrassing moment! Please note if you want to keep this anonymous (important detail*).
Assuming the content is presentable-ish, I will include some responses in a future newsletter. Not for the unsubscribers!
…And the most embarrassing story/awkward moment wins 50% off my fun, exciting and educational course! Social Skills and Emotion Management for Children of All Ages!
You will either grow more real and approachable from this activity, or provide us some laughter, (or both!) but either way, with more and more self love, you can handle anything.
P.S. It’s important to me to thank the people in my life who have gotten me to where I am. Today, I wanted to give thanks to my long time, childhood friend and colleague, Elisheva Liss, LMFT. Elisheva was one of the driving forces behind my course, and I am extremely grateful. If you’re not already subscribed to her weekly newsletter, sign up here. I wait for it every week!