7 Tips For Coping With Embarrassment

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Embarrassment is typically understood as a reaction to (usually in a social setting) that creates feelings of discomfort and self-consciousness around others. Even the most self-confident individuals may experience feelings of embarrassment at times. For some, embarrassment may negatively impact a person’s self-esteem, relationships, and quality of life well after the situation has passed. When put in a healthy perspective, embarrassment may have its benefits as well by helping us establish deeper connections with people and making us seem more approachable to others. You may cope with embarrassment by understanding the moment is in the past, finding humor in the situation, understanding perfection isn’t always attainable, and talking to someone about your feelings. Working with a therapist online or in-person to address your feelings of embarrassment can also be helpful.

You can learn to overcome embarrassment

1. Understand that the moment is in the past

When learning to cope with embarrassment, it may help to remember that the incident that caused your feelings has already happened, and as such, there is likely nothing you can do to change it. The best way to move forward from the situation may be to let go of the past and focus on the present moment as it is.

Exercise, participating in a favorite activity, or engaging in a mindfulness practice can all be examples of ways you may become more grounded within the moment and ease the discomfort of embarrassment. 

2. Know that you don't need to apologize for feeling embarrassed

Even though they aren’t usually the same, embarrassment can lead to more intense feelings like shame. You might sense the need to apologize because you’re feeling embarrassed, but this usually isn’t necessary. For example, most people will feel embarrassed if, for instance, someone walks in on them taking a shower or if they trip in front of a group of people. These things can happen, and you likely didn’t do anything wrong by having an embarrassing reaction.

3. Talk to someone about your feelings

When we’re embarrassed, we may seek comfort with those we trust the most. If you’re comfortable doing so, talk to a friend, loved one, or colleague about what happened and how you feel about it. You’ll likely find that these people can help you put things into perspective so you may feel more confident. It may show that most people aren’t judging you for the embarrassing moment and are often willing to discuss their own embarrassing stories with you. 

4. Learn to find humor in the situation

Once you feel more comfortable with the situation, it may become possible to laugh at it. This isn’t always easy, and the ability to do so often depends on the circumstances, the level of embarrassment you experienced, and the details of what transpired. With the right frame of mind, it can be possible to turn a typical embarrassing moment into something about which you can eventually laugh. 

5. Understand that fear can be normal

It’s possible that fear may keep you from moving forward after experiencing an embarrassing situation. If something uncomfortable happens the first time you have an intimate moment with someone, for instance, that may impact you for a long time. Some people might be afraid of experiencing the same embarrassment again. 

Fear can be a natural response for many people in embarrassing situations, but you don’t have to be controlled by it. If those fears get in the way of your quality of life, it can harm your relationships and mental well-being. It often takes strength to acknowledge that something is wrong and take steps to resolve the situation for the better.

6. Understand that perfection usually isn’t possible

Some people experience embarrassment because they fail to live up to a standard they set for themselves. Failure may be embarrassing, but you don’t have to let your failures define your self-esteem. Learning from your failures may have the potential to push you toward greater success. 

It can be important to remember that perfection is usually unobtainable. You’re one of many human beings who sometimes make mistakes and do awkward things. It may seem like you’re the only one with embarrassment, but it can be realistic to assume that others have experienced similar situations and, as a result, have experienced doubt just as you do. You can learn to move past those moments if you acknowledge and accept yourself as you are—flaws included.  

7. Try again

The fear of embarrassment should not generally hold you back from living your life and trying again. This could mean doing the same thing that embarrassed you in the past. You might be concerned about reliving these moments from the past, but things don’t have to go the same way, and even if something does go wrong, it’s possible to emerge with your self-esteem intact. If you take the time to learn from your embarrassing moments, you may even be able to avoid them in the future.   

You can learn to overcome embarrassment

How online therapy may help

Ultimately, the best way to cope with embarrassment depends on the individual and their particular circumstances. While getting support from people you trust in your life can be helpful for overcoming embarrassment, there may be some situations in which we don’t feel comfortable speaking with even our closest friends and family. In these cases, speaking with a therapist can provide significant support as you process the feelings associated with embarrassment, especially in more extreme circumstances involving fear, shame, and anxiety.

Studies have shown that most people experience improvement in anxiety symptoms after just a few psychotherapy sessions. If there have been embarrassing moments in your life that you can’t leave in the past, then you might need some assistance. A therapist can provide unbiased empathy regarding your feelings and help you process your emotions in healthy ways to move past embarrassment.  

While therapy is often highly beneficial, some people find that time constraints, location issues, and financial concerns make it difficult to receive help— but with the rise of online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp, more people have an easy, convenient approach to a mental health professional.

Through BetterHelp, you can schedule appointments with a mental health professional at your convenience and attend sessions from the comfort of home via online messaging, video chat, and phone call. Virtual therapy is often more affordable than traditional therapy without insurance, and a growing body of research indicates that it can be as effective as conventional therapy for treating mental health issues often associated with intense feelings of embarrassment, like anxiety and depression.

For example, a recent meta-analysis of 14 published studies found that patients with various mental health challenges, including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety, and depression, typically showed a 50% improvement in symptoms after 8-15 weeks of online treatment. 


Embarrassment is often a natural part of life that we all tend to experience occasionally. If you’re having trouble coping with embarrassment and it interferes with your quality of life, there may be methods of overcoming these feelings. Online therapy can be one option to help you process and work through embarrassment to move on healthily. You might also look for humor in the situation, talk to a friend or family about what happened, know that there’s no need to apologize for being embarrassed and remind yourself that the embarrassing moment is in the past.
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