Embarrass Easily?

Fear of Judgement

*Theorists have studied the link between shame and embarrassment to the Fear of Judgement extensively over the years. This is a multifaceted and complex subject.

Today’s blog simply illustrates how easily we can experience this Fear of Judgement in our everyday lives in the form of an innocent misstep in public.

Can you remember the last time you tripped or stumbled awkwardly in public?

Second to helping yourself up, dusting yourself off and checking for any broken bones, what did you probably do next? Or maybe even first?

If you’re like me, you probably looked around to see who bore witness to your fumble and thought the following:

“Did anyone see me do that?

How did I not see that pebble or that elephant?

So foolish…

Why do I feel flushed?”

A few weeks ago, I was on my morning walk engrossed in the sights and sounds around me when I stepped right into wet cement.  AARGHHH!! NOOOO!!!

I didn’t notice there was fresh cement right in front of me on one of the new sidewalks in town.

While it would have been acceptable if this were Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame it was instead a Walk of Shame in Pembroke, Massachusetts.


“I cannot believe I didn’t notice this was wet cement!

Who saw me?  How do I explain this?

Why wasn’t I more focused?  What was I thinking?  Ughhh!”

I was so embarrassed.

And so, it goes.

We can quickly shift into shame and self-criticism for even a minor mistake…but especially a mistake made in public.


“We want – and need- to be valued by others” – Thomas Hendricks, Ph. D

When we expose our flaws, especially in public, we wonder if “our value” to others will be judged…” what will they think of me now?”

Embarrassment is a primal emotion that dates back to our tribal origins.  “It is an emotion that signaled to us that we weren’t contributing to our tribe and could lose our standing…maybe even death.” – Huffpost 2016


While I doubt any of us in today’s world fear death for any mistakes made in public (well, I hope not), we are still hard wired to feel some level of shame when our imperfections are exposed. 

As social creatures, our public mask and outward presentation helps us stay in character.  It is how we want others to perceive us.  

“All it takes is a fall to suck the coolness right out of you” – Ellen Degeneres


The fear of judgement from others when we are not at our best (especially in public) can easily feed into any existing insecurities we may already have about ourselves and shake our confidence (public speaking is another good example).

So, while it may be human nature and instinctual to stop, drop and look around when we experience an unexpected stumble and lose our balance, it is the extent and length of our inner dialogue (level of self-criticism) that determines whether we stay stuck in feeling “less than”.

No one is perfect; awkward public missteps happen and the fear of judgement is in the eye of the beholder. The sooner we can let go of our embarrassment and discomfort about our imperfections, the sooner we can get to where we were going.

*Note to self:  It’s ok that you stepped in wet cement Brunnie. You were able to get someone to fix it and smooth it over. It could have happened to anyone.  Relax and let it go…”

So, until the next blog:

Have a nice trip and see you next fall.

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

*Wordpress seems to format differently with email versus cellular devices. If the video does not pop up automatically at the end of the article, just click on the word video above.

Funny Ellen video on embarrassment in public