Let’s be honest, we all have a long list of intensely embarrassing moments that we will dwell on for the rest of our lives. But what if we told you that there was a way to overcome the cringe? Yep, new research has determined that the best way to move on from those awkward memories is to imagine them happening to someone else.
The study – published in the journal Motivation and Emotion – found that visualising yourself as an anonymous observer of the situation can minimise distress.
They suggest that this method encourages you to take a step back, focus on the bigger picture and be kinder to yourself.
“It’s [about] detaching yourself from this embarrassing situation and realising observers won’t judge you harshly,” Li Jiang, one of the study’s authors, told TIME.
Researchers proved the viability of the method in three different studies of individuals who exhibit a high level of chronic public self-consciousness.
Finding a technique to overcome embarrassment has benefits far beyond handling momentary discomfort. Jiang says it can be crucial for those too embarrassed to chat to their doctor about important health issues.
“In medical tests, sometimes people feel too embarrassed to disclose certain kinds of information; this will lead to suboptimal outcomes, and sometimes is life-threatening.”
Other examples include: "Asking a technician 'dumb' questions that will increase customer satisfaction with a purchase, or adopting an innovative and socially-visible but potentially-risky product that might invite public ridicule."