What I wish I’d known about dealing with indignity

When you put yourself out in the world, it can sometimes be cringingly-embarrassing … 

Like, humiliating enough to make you want to vomit.

What a light-hearted topic, huh?!

But it’s worth thinking about a little.

Because, if food fills a hole, offers comfort or just makes-horrible-stuff-go-away, feeling embarrassed can be a major trigger.

Even as I physically recoil at the memories, here are some of the embarrassing moments that have stuck with me:

  • falling into a display of mannequins in Marks and Spencer, sending clothes and plastic limbs flying … sweet old ladies checking if I was ok as I lay sprawled on the floor …
  • blushing uncontrollably every time a handsome, American work colleague telephoned … so everyone in my team noticed, and (of course) teased me mercilessly …
  • getting intractably jammed between closing tube (aka metro or subway) doors, with one door pressing against my spine and the other down the centre of my chest … until another passenger had to pull the alarm to save my bacon … (you can imagine the eye-rolling and sighs from fellow city-commuters … )
  • and this new podcasting venture … the sound of my own voice … So. Many. Moments.

Surely cause for emojis! 🤢 😳 🙈 

Are there times you want the earth to swallow you up?

If not, I’m truly and deeply envious! Please, please let me know how to live without the cringe-factor!

But if you do feel that sucker-punch to the guts.

The hollow chasm in your throat and time standing still.

The urge to curl up and hide behind a nearby rock.

What to do?

Yes, eating or bingeing can numb you out, switch the focus, create a secret and solitary pleasure just for you. So if that’s your M.O., it makes a world of sense.

But eventually, the food becomes another thing to feel bad about.

Instead, these are the top-two most effective strategies I’ve found to move through embarrassment without turning to food.

The first uses a life coaching tool. The second utilises the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach.

1. Let the embarrassment be exactly as it is

When a feeling is fully experienced for 90 seconds, the intensity begins to shift.

As it it’s an energy passing through.

So, stay with the embarrassment and explore it as a sensation in your body.

Here are the steps you’ll need:

  1. Turn your attention toward the embarrassment
  2. What does it feel like in your body?
  3. Where in your body do you sense it?
  4. How would you describe it?
  5. Use as much detail as possible.
  6. Notice any changes in intensity, waves or movement
2. Make friends with the embarrassment

Just like your new BFF, you want to know EVERYTHING about it!

Begin to focus on the embarrassment with soft, inquisitive eyes.

Ask the following questions:

  1. How does the part of you that’s embarrassed show up in or around your body? Describe what it looks or feels like.
  2. Ask the embarrassment to tell you why it’s there.
  3. Can it describe more about how it’s feeling or what it’s experiencing?
  4. What’s it scared will happen to you? And if that happens, what then?
  5. Does what the embarrassment share make sense to you?

Open a quiet space as you ask these questions and simply see what comes up. 

Do you notice any shifts? You might be surprised.

Those strategies might sound kooky or strange.

But they work!

Where someone once turned to food, she now turns inside, toward herself.

She begins to know, deep within, that she’ll be ok—whatever’s happened.

I’ve seen it over and over.

You can feel The Cringe without The Binge.

OK … that was a terrible rhyme

But you really can.

And … as an added and totally enjoyable bonus, have you ever noticed the connection and laughter found in sharing those embarrassing stories with friends? Perhaps just wait until their not quite so raw and nausea-inducing …

P.S., If you found this post helpful, you’ll enjoy Episode 3 of The YoYo Freedom Podcast, “How to Quieten That Shouty Inner Critic.” Click here to listen.

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