Overcome fear of embarrassment and shame: Just let your pants down


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To be ashamed, according to Brene Brown, sociologyProfessorin in Houston, one of the greatest human fears ever. On the other hand, being extra embarrassing helps - for example, by lowering your pants in front of members of the English royal family.

Overcome fear of embarrassment and shame: Just let your pants down


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Overcome shame

Brene Brown needs to know what she is talking about, she has done research on fear of embarrassment and shame for years and says: "For a happy life, it is important to overcome this fear." How to do that? For example, doing something extra embarrassing - even if the following story is a little difficult to implement, if only because it will be difficult to find members of the English royal family.

However, the story behind it is extremely successful and also true. It was told to me recently by a colleague in Dublin. The story shows that even in situations where others would die of embarrassment, one can remain calm. That being said, it's just funny.

Queen Mum and the anthill

Said colleague is a photographer and was on a state visit to the now deceased Queen Mum in Zambia. As is the case with photographers, he looked for the best position on a small hill, tapped a step to the left - and stood in an anthill of red ants. So he tore off his pants.

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The security wanted to be active first, but then could not help laughing. Queen Mum hadn't missed the scene either, but no one said anything about it. The protocol had to be kept.

“It's great that you're feeling better today!”

A few months later another photo appointment with Queen Mum, this time in France. My colleague in the front line. Queen Mum came up to him and said: "Nice that you are better today than last June."

What would you have done in such a situation? Honestly, I would have died. Standing in front of Queen Mum's underpants, who still remembers and speaks to you, is pretty much the most embarrassing thing I do imagine can.

Get rid of the all-or-nothing attitude

For perfectionist natures in particular, such an event is downright personal. It shows them that they are far from being as perfect as they thought and in no way manage to get everything under control.

In addition, many perfectionists tend to adopt an all-or-nothing attitude and also regard small mistakes and embarrassments as a disaster. In order not to get into this situation in the first place, they want to avoid mistakes and shameful situations at all costs by meticulously preparing for a situation in order to be prepared for any eventuality.

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Social fears that inhibit us

Behind it are often social fears, which are often deep. It is not uncommon for the embarrassing horoscenarios in question to be painted in the brightest colors, which usually do not materialize at the end. Thinking is actually not a bad thing, as long as it leads to a result and is completed. It is also normal to occasionally worry and worry about important things and future events in order to avoid such problems as far as possible.

However, it becomes problematic when thinking about potential embarrassments becomes aimless, pubic brooding. Because then you want to control a situation by being aware of it and anticipating it as much as possible. So you try to collect as much information as possible and to illuminate all facets of a problem.

Embarrassments cannot be anticipated

Perfectionist natures approach even minor aspects of a problem, as if they were important things that are worth knowing every detail. This quickly turns small problems into big disasters. In relation to the situation described above, this would mean that the colleague had inspected the site on a general scale the day before. It is questionable whether he would have identified the anthill as a possible problem despite all the preliminary efforts.

Because that is the crux: you can try to avoid embarrassing things - and you will never quite make it. Because such embarrassments and mistakes are part of life's imponderability, unfortunately they cannot be avoided. It makes much more sense to deal with mistakes constructively and to learn from them for the future. To do this, you first have to be aware and analyze what exactly went wrong in the respective situation and what you could have done better. You will then know how to react in similar situations.

Die from embarrassment?

However, my colleague made the best of it and was happy to tell the story with a lot of charm. He probably couldn't have done much else. And he shows that what is embarrassing is still determined by everyone.

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Staying cool is therefore the best solution for situations in which you are ashamed. Simply the stress. Switch off. If necessary, think again at another time about the topic. Because if you continue to be ashamed of yourself, you will have more and more doubts, which in extreme cases you can no longer remedy. If, on the other hand, you give your brain a break, you will occasionally be surprised to find that it takes care of itself. Or is not that bad, just a funny anecdote.

And that is exactly what I like about this story: Whenever I feel embarrassed in the future, I will think of it.


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  1. Simone Janson

    Thanks for the hint. I'll take a look at it.

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