Nervous smileCredit: Most right-minded folk prefer to avoid embarrassment at all costs. Being exposed to a potentially embarrassing situation is the stuff of nightmares for many people. They imagine being naked in front of colleagues, mucking up a speech on stage and humiliating themselves in countless other ways.

What is at the heart of being embarrassed is the fear of what other people are thinking. About us. More specifically, the fear that they find us wanting in some way. But how realistic is that fear? Think about it this way, without the presence of a ‘judge’ would you still be embarrassed? Imagine the same nightmares without the audience. Being naked. Well, aren’t we all at the end of the day? Mucking up a speech. Let’s just correct it and carry on. By removing the imagined censure and judgment we remove the shame.

Think about all the times you’ve been worried about how other people view you. Does it worry you enough to stop you trying new things, wearing new clothes, taking on a new career? Whose voice are you actually hearing and why do you let it have such power over your choices? Taking stock of our behavior and values is a good thing. Thinking ‘should I’ before leaping into something new is utterly reasonable. However when that thinking becomes overly critical and negative it’s time to quieten the inner judge.

So what if (and this is a radical thought) we were to embrace embarrassment? What if we welcomed situations where we could potentially embarrass ourselves in front of other people? Well, let’s look at five reasons why we should do exactly that.

Find new love  No, not a new him or her. If you weren’t embarrassed by not knowing what you’re doing, would you do something you had never done before? By exposing yourself to new learnings and new adventures you open yourself up to the chance of stumbling across something that makes your heart sing.

Gain new skills  Every time you seek out new opportunities you gather knowledge and skills. At the very least you’ll discover what you’re not good at! By being conscious of your successes and failures along the journey you can use this knowledge to your advantage in your professional and personal life.

Hone our instincts  The act of putting ourselves out there in spite of how nervous it makes us erodes the fear that seemed so insurmountable originally. Just as talking about a nightmare lessens its effects so too does overcoming embarrassment make it more rational. By removing the ‘noise’, our inner voice becomes a more reasoned and common-sense ally. One that’s much more capable of guiding us effectively.

Make new friends  Not only does being open to new experiences widen our social circles, so too does the confidence that comes with being comfortable in your own skin. People like to be around people who have natural self-confidence. If approached strategically, this confidence will give you a strong foundation for building a successful business network as well.

Reduce stress and anxiety  Removing the fear of embarrassing yourself is utterly liberating. It empowers you to make decisions that are true to you. You should care about the views of people you respect and take them into account or not, as you see fit. But you should not tie yourself in knots trying to be what you think other people think you ought to be because odds are you’ve got it wrong in any case!

There are lots of reasons to embrace embarrassment and I hope these few thoughts motivate you to face it full on. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?