How To Forget Embarrassing Moments
You know how it is…one minute you’re sitting there peacefully and the next you’re remembering something shameful you did on a random Tuesday afternoon 7 years ago, cue the cringe!
We all have our fair share of embarrassing memories, whether it’s a fashion phase you went through, something you might have said to a room full of people, or that time you pre-gamed too hard and did something really stupid at an event.
Whatever it was, you hate reliving it and will do anything to forget it ever happened. We’re totally with you there.
Luckily for you, we have some useful tips and tricks on how to forget embarrassing moments, or better, forgetting your worst, most cringe-worthy moments. Read on to find out more!
“Life is full of embarrassing moments, but they don’t define us – it’s how we react to them that does.”
Why Do We Remember Embarrassing Moments?
How long does it take for someone to forget something embarrassing: when it comes to memory, there are three basic functions: encoding, storing, and retrieving. Encoding is when we learn new information. After this process, our brains store the information as either short or long-term memory.
Short-term memories don’t last for very long. Sometimes, they move into our long-term memories when there is space for them.
Retrieving is the process of remembering our memories. Sometimes, sounds and sights in our present environment can trigger our brain to retrieve a memory, whether it’s wanted or not! Read more about how to rewire an anxious brain.
Often, the memories we can recall are attached to strong emotions, both positive and negative. Therefore, embarrassing memories are far easier to remember and recall than neutral ones!
Below we have some tips for forgetting embarrassing memories!
How to Forget Something Embarrassing
Replace Negative Memories With Positive Ones
Whenever an embarrassing memory comes to mind, try replacing it with a positive one!
For example, when you think back to something cringe-worthy that happened when you were out with friends, try and focus on the fun or happy parts of that day instead.
In time, that happy moment may become what you remember most and not the embarrassing one!
How to Forget an Embarrassing Moment?
Embrace The Moment!
Unfortunately, it’s not often that we can totally forget an embarrassing moment in its entirety. Most of the time the goal is not to forget that a specific memory exists, but to forget that the memory is embarrassing.
A great way to achieve this is by processing your emotions. Instead of avoiding feelings of embarrassment, let yourself feel it and accept the situation for what it was.
When you accept it, you have a better chance of processing the embarrassing moment and moving on from it.
It is good to remember that you’re not perfect, and embarrassing moments will happen from time to time.
If you are too hard on yourself, then you may not learn how to have fun and let things go. So, it is vital that you learn to accept these moments for what they are, and you’ll have a much better chance of forgetting them.
“Embarrassing moments are just life’s way of reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously.”
Remember The Context
When you focus on what went wrong, you heighten the unwanted feelings of shame and embarrassment.
The next time you remember bad memories and you cannot think of any positive ones from the same day or situation, you should focus on any mundane ones you can muster to not relive the negatives of the situation.
For example, simply remembering what you were doing on that day, who you were with, the color of your dress, shirt, etc, redirects your attention to the context of the memory which allows you to relive the event without suppressing it.
This should help to put the embarrassing moment in perspective because it is placed in the context of an ordinary day with non-emotional details, and will therefore feel less intense.
If you cannot seem to get an embarrassing moment out of your head, then you should reach out to someone about it.
When you hold onto an embarrassing memory instead of learning how to forget something embarrassing, you might inadvertently heighten feelings of shame and intensify your insecurities related to that moment.
You should confide in a close friend or family member. By openly discussing details of the bad memory, you may start to feel better because you’re getting it all out in the open.
Your confidante may even help you see your awkward moment from a new perspective and shine a positive light on your situation!
Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You
Chances are, if you feel embarrassed over a memory then you don’t like the idea of other people thinking badly of you.
It’s going to be easier said than done, but you have to stop worrying about what other people think of you!
This feels like an impossible task, but it is helpful to remember that we tend to exaggerate our imperfections and flaws and assume everyone else is thinking the same as we do about ourselves, when this is in fact not the case at all!
The reality is, most people (us included) are too focused on their own insecurities and embarrassing moments, to pay attention to any of our mistakes, faults, or anything that we think is embarrassing.
So, take the pressure off yourself and don’t care about what others think – because chances are, they’re not thinking of you at all, and didn’t even notice that thing you did you think is super awkward!
Tips Going Forward
So, it is almost inevitable that you’ll find yourself in an embarrassing situation again in life, but here are some tips to deal with it going forward!
Make Light Of The Situation
You can prepare yourself for embracing the moment the next time you’re in an embarrassing situation. Humor is suggested to be a great way of overcoming awkward social moments.
If you laugh off the embarrassing moment at the time or make a lighthearted joke at your own expense about it, then you’re more likely to make people laugh with you and you’ll forget about the moment a lot quicker.
Apologize (But Don’t Overdo It!)
Apologizing can be a great way to make you feel better about an embarrassing moment. However, you definitely should avoid apologizing repeatedly. Saying sorry over and over actually does more harm than good. This may be perceived as an manipulative apology, read more about manipulative apologies and how to respond to manipulative apologies.
Not only is it exasperating for the people you’re apologizing to, but you’re stopping yourself from moving past the situation – because you’re too focused on the past and not focused enough on moving forward.
It is also good to remember that it is not always necessary to apologize for an embarrassing moment, all you need to do is pick yourself up and move forward.
Everyone you know has a plethora of embarrassing moments they’d rather forget.
However, it is important to note that embarrassing memories are not likely to be forgotten, and it is better to focus on forgetting a memory that is embarrassing than forgetting a memory in its entirety.
It helps to focus on the positives of the embarrassing situation, and when that’s not possible, to focus on the neutral aspects of it and place the embarrassing moment within the context of the day.
Additionally, you should aim to reach out to others if you’re feeling down over your awkward memories.
Ultimately, you should aim to care less about what others think of you and learn to laugh about embarrassing situations, and embrace them for what they are. From here, you will be able to accept them and move on from them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it so hard to forget embarrassing moments?
Our brains are wired to remember emotionally charged events, especially those that cause us discomfort. This is an evolutionary mechanism to help us learn from our mistakes and avoid them in the future.
How long does it take to forget embarrassing moments?
There’s no set timeline for forgetting embarrassing moments, as it varies from person to person. The key is to change your perspective and stop dwelling on them.
Can I completely erase an embarrassing moment from my memory?
While it may not be possible to completely erase a memory, you can learn to detach from it and reduce its emotional impact.
How can I help someone else forget an embarrassing moment?
Be supportive, empathetic, and understanding. Help them find the humor in the situation and remind them that everyone has embarrassing moments.
Can sharing my embarrassing moment with others help me forget it?
Yes, talking about the incident can help you process it and gain a new perspective. It also helps to know that others have experienced similar situations.
How can I prevent embarrassing moments from happening?
While you can’t entirely prevent embarrassing moments, you can learn to handle them better by being prepared and practicing self-compassion.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: November 29, 2023