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Embarrassment is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’ve done something you’re ashamed of or that you think will make you look bad. You might feel anxious, blush or feel like you're getting unwanted attention and everyone is looking at you. We all feel embarrassed sometimes. 

Teenage boy covers face with handWhat is embarrassment?

People can feel embarrassed in all kinds of situations. It can be a general feeling, for example when you meet someone new and find it difficult to know how to talk to them.

Sometimes it’s a particular thing that makes you feel embarrassed – like saying something which came out wrong, or doing something you think other people will laugh at.

Other people’s behaviour can embarrass you too – if someone makes nasty comments about you this can make you feel awkward or humiliated.

Coping with embarrassment

Whatever you’re feeling embarrassed about, it can be helpful to remember that often it’s natural to feel this way. It may not make the embarrassment go away completely but it can be good to remind yourself that everyone gets embarrassed. We all do things that we feel a bit silly about or things we wish we had done differently or not at all. It is impossible to get things right all the time.

Take a look at the message boards to see what other young people feel embarrassed about and how they cope. 

Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting help

When we feel embarrassed about something, it can feel really hard to ask for help. It’s normal to worry that how you feel is ‘stupid’ or ‘not important’, or that other people will laugh or not understand.

Even though it can be hard to share some things, it’s important to know that there are people who can support you and take you seriously. We talk to young people about all sorts of issues - even if you feel embarrassed or ashamed about what has happened, we understand your problem is important and will always listen.

  • What situations can make you feel embarrassed?

    Embarrassment can be caused by a particular situation or it might be triggered by a general feeling including:    

    1. Feeling anxious around friends, for example, meeting new people. Being scared of ‘embarrassing yourself’ can often stop you from going out with friends or doing things. 
    2. Talking about sex or things that happen to your body during puberty.
    3. Being made to feel embarrassed because of bullying.
    4. Feeling guilty about something that has happened.
    5. Experiencing abuse: even though abuse is never your fault, some people feel embarrassed to tell someone about it. It’s important to remember you are not alone and there are people who can support you. ChildLine is always here for you.

  • What can I do to feel better about an embarrassing situation?

    Make a joke about it - If something isn't that serious, laughing about what went wrong can help you to feel it isn't something to worry about. This can also encourage other people to feel it's something you can all see the funny side of together. You might even find that other people share their own embarrassing stories. Why not search 'embarrassing' on the message boards to see what other people have experienced.

    Try to play down or ignore what happened - Sometimes this can stop you from blushing or feeling really stressed. It's important to remember that just because you feel something was really awkward or humiliating other people might not have noticed.

    Face up to what you've done - If you feel your behaviour might have upset someone you could try to apologise to them and tell them how much you regret what happened. You could also think of ways to stop it happening again or talk to ChildLine for support.

    Talk to someone you trust - Talking about how you feel can often make things seem better. You might find that others have done or said similar things that they also felt embarrassed about. Try talking to a friend or adult who you trust. You can also check out the message boards to see how other people cope with embarrassment.

  • What does embarrassment feel like?

    Feeling embarrassed can be a very upsetting experience - you can feel weird, picked on, stupid, ugly or worthless, even when you have done nothing wrong. You might feel like you want to cry or feel ill. It can also make you nervous or worried.

    Embarrassment can be a passing feeling that’s not a big deal or an overwhelming feeling that is hard to cope with. Sometimes it can seem like the feeling will never go away. It's important to remember that embarrassment usually doesn't last forever and it can get easier to cope with as we understand situations better.

    You don't have to cope with this feeling on your own, you can talk to ChildLine for help.

  • What kinds of things do people feel embarrassed about?

    There are lots of situations that can make people feel embarrassed. These include:
    • meeting new people
    • moving schools or house
    • not getting the exam results you hoped for
    • talking about things that are very personal
    • changes to your body, like puberty (getting a period or when your voice changes)
    • talking about sex and sexual health or sexual identity
    • feeling uncomfortable about how you look or having low self-esteem
    • being made to do things you don’t want to or peer pressure to act a certain way
    • if you do badly at something or someone criticises you
    • if you’re trying to hide how you feel and someone points out what you’re really feeling
    • if you’ve done something you regret
    • getting attention for something you’ve done, like being given an award at school
    • your family’s behaviour, especially around your friends

    If you feel embarrassed about something, you can talk to a ChildLine counsellor or check out the message boards for support and advice from other young people.

  • If I’ve done something wrong and feel embarrassed about it, should I admit it?

    It’s important to remember that something which seems really embarrassing to you may not seem that way to other people. If you've done something wrong or something you regret, telling someone can be a first step in moving on. Admitting that you have done something wrong shows you can take responsibility and learn from mistakes.

    You could think about what it would feel like to talk to someone you trust about this, like a friend, parent or teacher. You could also try talking to ChildLine. We won’t judge you or tell you what to do. We are here to listen and support you

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Bullying message board

Are you being bullied or perhaps you're worried about a friend?

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