How Embarrassing!

Why do we feel embarrassment? Is it because we are desperate to act like someone or something else and ultimately feel like we messed up? Why does it often feel really hard to recover? And how much does self judgement come into the equation?

January 11, 2022

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Melissa Albers  0:01  
Hey everyone. Welcome to the self awareness Journey podcast. I'm Melissa Albers.

JJ Parker  0:06  
And I'm JJ Parker. This podcast is for seekers, seekers of happiness and joy seekers of a centered approach to success in life. Seekers of their true authentic selves.

Melissa Albers  0:17  
Get ready for some real talk on everything from anxiety, emotions and habits to love, compassion and forgiveness. We know you'll be challenged and enlightened by this conversation. We're so glad you're here. Let's dive in. So JJ, yesterday, I ran to the grocery store at the end of the day, and I was like, huffing through trying to get all my stuff done. I was having cocktail club over at my house. And so I needed to get a couple things. And I came tooling around the the dairy aisle. Yeah. And I reached for a couple of things and, and then turn around, threw them in my cart, and started cruising down the next style. And suddenly I heard this little old lady's voice, ma'am, excuse me. You have my cart.

JJ Parker  1:12  
You took an old lady's cards, and

Melissa Albers  1:14  
I looked down and it wasn't my card. And that wasn't my purse in the car, either. She probably thought I was trying to steal. How embarrassing.

JJ Parker  1:27  
Yeah, that's pretty embarrassing. So I So how'd you how'd you recover? Well, well, because I was freaked out and took off.

Melissa Albers  1:40  
I grabbed a person ran. Yeah, all right. Well, because I've done that particular move so many times, I feel like I sort of gracefully got out of it. Meaning, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I can't tell you how many times I've done that. She looked at me like you psycho. And she just grasped the guard and disappeared around the corner. Ah,

JJ Parker  2:03  
so how did you feel like the rest of your grocery shopping? I just a variance.

Melissa Albers  2:08  
Here's the sad news. I feel like I do so many embarrassing things. But I just, I just get over it fast. Now. I gave I've given myself so much practice. But it is mortifying, it is more. And then of course, there were a bunch of other people because I was at lunch. So there's the whole place is packed. So everybody's watching me do this. It's like, oh my gosh, I feel so stupid.

JJ Parker  2:34  
Well, like last week, I was at an event with a bunch of people and like a bunch of people I didn't know. And we had to like go around and introduce ourselves and right tell people what we do. And I always hate the question like, What do you do? Because like, I do a lot. Like, I don't know, how much time do you have? Well, most of the time, I just have like some flippin answer because they just don't really like the question. Well, like, last week, we were doing that. And it was my turn. And they just completely like stumbled around. I didn't even tell me what I'm like, I don't know. I like some companies and kids and projects of JJ. Like embarrassing intro myself. But the thing is, is I really struggled after

Melissa Albers  3:29  
that. Oh, you did? Yeah. So get back on your game.

JJ Parker  3:33  
I didn't get I couldn't I didn't get back in the game, right? Oh, lately derailed, like my mental track. Like, like an hour. Oh, and there's like a speaker and we're supposed to be engaging. And the whole time I'm thinking like, let's explain what I do. Like, the easiest thing like it's got in your head. Totally. Yeah, totally. And I spun it and spun it and spun it and it was really frustrating.

Melissa Albers  4:01  
That's interesting. You know, I this just tells me again that you would not be good in sales. I remember this one time. Well, no, there were millions of times. So at one time in particular, when I was newly in sales, I I was so excited about having my own schedule. Like I could drive around, do whatever I wanted. And I drove through the McDonald's parking lot or the through the McDonald's drive thru. So I was like, Oh, of course I'm in my 20s Everybody, so don't judge me. Well, you can judge me it's kind of fun. But I'm in my 20s I go through the drive thru and I what most people get when they go through the drive thru like they get something like a sandwich or whatever, right? Yes, like like lunch? Yeah. Or breakfast sandwich even if you know whatever. No, I got scrambled eggs.

JJ Parker  4:50  
And you can get scrambled eggs from the Donald Well, you

Melissa Albers  4:52  
could back then I don't even know if you can't scrambled eggs and pancakes. So I ate them in the car while I was driving to my customers. Right, and it was a prospect brand new

JJ Parker  5:02  
girl. That seems like a super easy food to eat nice bill all over yourself and the car

Melissa Albers  5:06  
Cisely, which I thought I did a beautiful job until I'm in this meeting. And the guy keeps looking over my eye at my shoulder. He keeps staring at my shoulder, and I was like, what is wrong? Maybe there's someone behind me? Or is he like reading something on his wall behind? What is he doing? And suddenly he said, I don't I don't mean to be rude. But you have like a big pile of what looks like scrambled eggs under shoulder.

I have absolutely no idea. But I was so mortified. Right. And it's the same feeling inside. And I was just reflecting on your story, which I want to come back to. But I was just reflecting on had I not been able to recover from that the entire prospect meeting would have been shot. Right. Yeah.

JJ Parker  5:55  
So like, you're painting a good picture about how how you get a lot and have all these recovery tech. Like Don't let it bother you somehow. So let's break down embarrassment a little bit. Yeah, I think it's an interesting response. Like, like, why do we even get embarrassed? Who cares? Right? Yeah. So you had egg on your shoulder? Who cares? Right? You care? I care. Why do we care? Like, yeah, there's like a social thing. Right? Like, we want to be accepted. We want to be seen in a particular way.

Melissa Albers  6:29  
Yeah. That is interesting. Why do we get embarrassed? Well, I guess you have a certain picture of yourself and you want to you want to have that actor self well polished, huh? You're right. Yeah. Right. I have that actor self well polished. Yeah. There's actors don't have scrambled eggs on their shoulder actors know how to smoothly respond anytime I ask them a personal question.

JJ Parker  6:53  
Um, I heard this, I read this awesome thing, like the last week about the brain? Oh, yeah. And I just I just remembered, they're talking about how like, there's like a, like, neuroscience kind of thing. And they're talking about how there's this theory of the brain that it's like a bunch of modules that kind of like fire kind of separately and kind of synchronize, but it's a lot more random than, like, are also like our egos like to admit Ah, right. Right. Hey, so talking about that. And they positioned? Like our logical part of our brain. Yeah. As our PR person, as our public relations, what Gosh, I'm merrily wants to do is be a PR agent, to make sure that we're looking super good in like our social contexts, right, within our social groups within our peer groups, with our families and friends that installed PR all the time. Good. And I was like, oh, that's actually super true. Yeah. Like our like, whether we want to or not, we're almost kind of like subconsciously driven to, like you said, look at certain way. Yeah, brain is just kind of acting like a public relations person. out there with the microphones, right? Say, Yeah, we got egg on our shoulder. But yeah, it's okay. With all this over.

Melissa Albers  8:33  
Oh, my gosh, can I tell you another story? Sure. I have so many stories. I remember this one time, also in sales. I had to get my car repaired. And I needed to, I needed to be at the office when it was being repaired. But I didn't have any way of getting back to the office. So I was planning on having to sit there while this guy, also a salesperson offered that he would come and get me. And I didn't know him really well. And I was kind of embarrassed about asking him and then accepting you know, like, yeah, absolutely no problem. It's right on my way. So he kind of explained what his car was. And this is back in the day, right? So I had 80 seals. I just got to paint the picture because to me, the more I think about this over the years, the funnier the visual is. I am in little pointy heels, pointy toed pointy heeled ad shoes. I've got the little pencil skirt. I've got huge shoulder pads on this shirt. On my sweater. I've got massive 80s hair, right and in the 80s it was super cool to carry a briefcase. So I had a briefcase to do business. I'm doing biz Nez had little gold trim on the corners, like I remember it was gray, which was super cool, cuz Gray was my color. So I'm standing on the corner waiting for this guy. And it's on the near the frontage road. And I'm waiting and waiting and feeling kind of self conscious because you know, I'm Looking pretty fine in my 80s like, look, and I thinking, you know, no nice young lady stands on a frontage road. So I'm waiting for my ride. Suddenly I see his car. I'm like, Yeah, there he is. Okay. And to break the ice because I'm kind of embarrassed. He starts to drive by or towards me and I jump out on the road and swing my arms out. Like, haha, here I am like, you can't miss me trying to be funny. Uh huh. The guy just swerved to miss me. And it wasn't my friend. It was it was a stranger. I picked the wrong car wasn't even a car. I was absolutely mortified. I've done so many things in my life like that. Trying to pretend like I'm not going to do something stupid to make myself the PR person. It's the PR brain. It totally is that like, Oh, I'm gonna look all relaxed and cool enough to make a joke, right? Yeah, right. Oh, dear.

JJ Parker  11:01  
Yeah. So a lot of times, prior embarrassment comes when we're actually trying to act like someone else. Yeah, we mess it up.

Melissa Albers  11:10  
Yes. Right. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. I have an interesting question for you. Okay. Where do you feel embarrassment in your body? Because we always talk about self awareness journey and triggers and where they react in our body. So where do you feel yours?

JJ Parker  11:25  
Well, to me, I like I like actually like, shake. Oh, I guess like a whole body shake.

Melissa Albers  11:31  
Oh. And is that the first thing that you notice?

JJ Parker  11:36  
Um, yeah, I

Melissa Albers  11:37  
think so. For me, I get like, actually, do you know what? I've even been so embarrassed that I'm sounding like a crazy person. Again, still. My eyes almost crossed for a minute. It's like, I just, like just eyes get big for a minute. And then my whole chest starts to feel prickly. Huh? Like, oh, here we go again. And then the very next response that I have is, I recognize this feeling. Oh, horrible. Here we go.

JJ Parker  12:14  
I like that all of your embarrassment stories are like very physical, almost slapstick situations. No,

Melissa Albers  12:23  
no, no, that's only the ones I've told you about. I guess we could fill up five hours of a podcast, which we won't. Well, maybe we should for fun later on a bloopers reel. I've done so many stupid things. I have done so many stupid things. And I have said so many stupid things.

JJ Parker  12:48  
So I so I had, you know, like I really had trouble recovering. Yeah, from that. Yeah. But as I was sitting there, I'm like, I'm such a nerd. Like, like I did that. We're all supposed to be in a group event. Like, I'm just sitting here with like, my notebook writing down, like, like all these ideas. Hmm, like about embarrassment? Hi. So this is how I this is how I owe Asian groups. Because I'm such an introvert.

Melissa Albers  13:18  
What did you put? Do you want to share anything?

JJ Parker  13:21  
Well, yeah. Is this like, I was talking, I was thinking about like, like, why? Like, why is the recovery so hard? Yeah. And then I started really thinking about, like, Why does my brain want to spin on this one thing that I like, no longer have control of? Right?

Melissa Albers  13:38  
Yeah, it's really great. You're trying to recover. That's so normal, right? We all do that.

JJ Parker  13:43  
Yeah. But I was really stuck. Like, why am I why did I get so stuck on it? Like, normally, I can just kind of like, let let things go. Yeah. But then I was. I like it. I mean, we already touched on a little bit, but I was thinking about like, Okay, I'm in a different social context. I wanted to kind of impress people, right? Yeah, I didn't like and then I thought about, like, all the 100 others things I should have said, Mm hmm. Right. Yeah. Like, oh, I should have presented it this way. Or that way. There was so many other options than the dumb way I did it.

Melissa Albers  14:15  
Wow. Okay. So loaded with judgment. No, yeah. No, judging yourself was like, oh, hard.

JJ Parker  14:21  
Agreed. It was like a whole hour of self criticism and judgment. Wow. I you know, I just got stuck.

Melissa Albers  14:30  
Mm hmm. So I've done that many, many times, too. And actually, I don't think

JJ Parker  14:34  
it was until we like I switched we switched and did it segments thing.

Melissa Albers  14:41  
Yeah, you switch segment. Oh, we went to happy hour. Alcohol

JJ Parker  14:50  
the solution and cause of most problems,

Melissa Albers  14:53  
okay. So I want to take a little teeny commercial break right now and just say Isn't that interesting? Because what you did, and when you notice it, quit is when you switch segments. And that's what we talk about when we get triggered something really bothers us, we have these strong emotions. And then we kept keep ruining it ruminating on them, and we can't get past them who don't know why. And we're not going to be able to solve them by our brains. And the best way to do it is to switch segments, which is what happened. And switch segments means you leave the room you have a you start talking to somebody different. You take a nap, you meditate for a minute you switch activities, anything like that, because it will shift your brain from the corkscrew. It's in. Yeah, so I just want to make that little commercial break. Isn't that interesting? Because you did that. That's what happened for you.

JJ Parker  15:38  
Yeah. Oh, yeah, totally. I didn't even realize it until you and I started. We're just Yeah, talking about it now.

Melissa Albers  15:43  
Well, I do wonder if the reason that that hit you so hard, is because because that's something that's so important to you personally, what you do, yeah, and your life and how you will you have a very rich life with a lot of different things that are you know, and you, you enjoy more than a lot of other people. You enjoy having this Well, well, unbalanced. Crazy interesting, really, like all these different activities kind of life. Mm hmm. And you place value on a lot of different things. But you also place value on being we call you, the chief contractor with words.

JJ Parker  16:28  
Melissa and I are huge self awareness nerds. We've been working on this stuff for a really long time. And we love talking about it and sharing it with all of you, we've actually brought all of the stuff we've made into an online course. And we think it's really great. The course starts by learning about yourself, and how your mind body connection works. It dives into your thoughts and feelings. And then helps you learn how to become your true authentic self. Start your journey today. Head to the self awareness journey.com to learn more and sign up.

Here's the other interesting thing that I was thinking about was, as I was sitting there, stewing, I was like, did anyone else even notice or care? And I think the answer is no. Yeah, right. That's right. Right. Like, did I actually mess it up that bad? Probably not know, they even care? No, no. Like, no. Like, like most of the experiences where I've felt really embarrassed. Half the time people don't even notice. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  17:39  
Yeah. But that's super

JJ Parker  17:40  
interesting. We're just on ourselves. Yeah. And we don't have very good perspective. Yeah. Of Well, if other people thought that was embarrassing, or how how long someone else would think about that event? Probably for like two seconds, or they're just gone.

Melissa Albers  17:55  
Yeah. They're just listening to the next person. Yeah. That is very interesting. You know, there's different layers of, of embarrassment to isn't there. Like, there's the, like, just in this conversation. Have you ever had individual thoughts, like just thinking about something alone? And then getting embarrassed about the fact that you're thinking about it? Hmm. That's funny,

JJ Parker  18:22  
isn't it? Like? Yeah, it's about our own thoughts.

Melissa Albers  18:25  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Isn't that interesting? Like, oh, my gosh, that would be awful. If someone knew I was thinking about that. You know, like, yeah, it's really I feel like embarrassments really tied to judgment.

JJ Parker  18:38  
Yeah, I think you're right. Because like, even again, in my example, like, I'm a little embarrassed, now that we're talking about it, that I spent an entire hour on something that was so in generally inconsequential,

Melissa Albers  18:52  
but don't you think, though, or do you think that as an introvert, I think that represents a very common reaction for introverted people to go very much inward and evaluate and have all the conversations inside? I think that's very, very common. You know, and, and what it looks like on the outside is someone being very, very quiet and disconnected or maybe not paying attention, but that's not what it is. It's the introverted having a lot of conversations inside of themselves. Don't you think? That's kind of normal?

JJ Parker  19:27  
Um, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it can. It can still what you're saying. Embarrassment has a lot of judgment attached to it. Yeah. Yeah. And there's like the internal judgment. There's a good example of the internal judgment. Right, judging our own thoughts. Yeah, get ourselves wrong. For even thinking things.

Melissa Albers  19:47  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's interesting. How, you know, like embarrassment is has got to be one of the very first emotions that kids have got You think, like the minute they get in a social setting, whether it be as soon as they are consciously aware, like think about that, like, maybe a two year old isn't going to be embarrassed about pitch and an absolute fit in target.

JJ Parker  20:14  
No, really little kids, they, they, they clearly don't have a lot of embarrassment. They'll just like do whatever right. No feelings like, right? Yeah. But as you get older, embarrassment almost like keeps your behavior. Yeah, in a certain lane. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  20:31  
It's like your social fence. Yeah, that's really interesting, because I was just thinking, I remember when I was in fifth grade, I had a really best friend at the time. And her name was patty. And Patti and I were like, just thick as thieves all the time. And one day, it was almost like she was running a social experiment, because I remember being so perplex the two feelings that three feelings I had, where I was completely confused, as completely devastated. And I was highly embarrassed. What she did is we were in a library, just during, like, reading hour, or something I can't even remember, but our whole class was in this library. And she went around and got everyone into sort of a group that she was running. And she just said, came up to me, and she said, No one likes you. Well, that's mean, was so mean. And I was, um, and by the end, my parents are going through divorce. So it was a really hard time. And I just remember being so confused, because she is such a good friend of mine. And I mean, she, she's wasn't a mean person. And she still isn't a mean person. She's a wonderful person. But she was going through some experiments herself, right? She was trying to figure out what was socially okay and not okay. And I started to cry. And I was so embarrassed that I was crying in front of people. Like that was like such a, oh my gosh, I just felt like that was like a mortal sin to show that I was crying in front of other people. And when she saw that happen, right after everybody dispersed and went back to their classes, I remember her saying, I'm so sorry. I did that. Yeah, so there was something in there for her too. But I but think about I was just thinking about that. It's like, now that's an that's a situation where I've done lots and lots of dumb, slapstick, embarrassing mo so but that was me being embarrassed about my feelings. And embarrassed by the experiment.

JJ Parker  22:27  
I wonder if she is a barest by her behavior for that. Yeah,

Melissa Albers  22:31  
I think she was I think she was. So

JJ Parker  22:35  
that's an example, right of those guardrails. It's like, Hey, we're gonna try this, right? This social experiment, like you said, Yeah, didn't work. Right. Yeah. So it's crying. Now everyone thinks whatever, you know, that's gonna change her behavior in the future.

Melissa Albers  22:51  
Yeah. And it also changed her people thought she was a bully that, huh? Yeah. Right. So but it is, it is interesting to think because I think even as adults, we do practice things. This is the whole thing about goal setting, right? And we and you see all these memes. It's like, you could if you can think it, you can do it, if you can, you know, if you could do it, you could be it, whatever, all these things, right. But on the backside of that is if it doesn't work. It's not just failure. It's embarrassment. You know, it's like, people will know, I'll be found out. Yeah.

JJ Parker  23:33  
Yeah. So. So embarrassment is really, when, when your PR self needs to really kick in and say,

Melissa Albers  23:45  
I love that. Yeah. Isn't it interesting to that the very tool that is shuffling the deck to make you look cool on the outside? Is the very tool that's judging you to make you feel bad.

JJ Parker  24:00  
Mm hmm. It's the human the irony of the human experience. All right, well, I'm gonna try to not do anything embarrassing for the rest of the day.

Melissa Albers  24:14  
I'm not gonna set such a lofty goal for myself

JJ Parker  24:24  
but it is I like, I like this conversation. It's, it's interesting how so many of these things are multifaceted, right? Yeah, different angles to some of these things. And, and when we start kind of peeling back those layers of the onion, we just discover so many more things. So

Melissa Albers  24:41  
and you know, what I would say too, is you never know a person's level of embarrassment or judgment. Give people grace. Because remember, like, even as you and I were talking about this yesterday, just trying to decide like, Oh, what are we going to talk about today? We started talking about this and I just made an offhanded comment that I was like, Oh my gosh. I've had so many more embarrassing moments than you like you. And I think I said, and you recut. Oh, no. What I said is, you recover so much better though. Yeah. And what did you reply with? Do you remember what you said back? No, I talked about you said, No, I just cover it better. Oh, yeah, there you go. I love that because that's the extrovert and the introvert right there.

JJ Parker  25:24  
Did you enjoy this episode? Please go to your favorite podcast platform to subscribe rate and leave a review so others can discover it as well.

Melissa Albers  25:33  
Growing self awareness is a lifelong journey and there's always further to go. And it's better when we're all in it together. Please think of someone you know who could benefit from hearing today's conversation and share this episode with them. We can't thank you enough for listening. Until next time, happy exploring seekers.

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Discussed in this episode

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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