How to Recover From Major Embarrassment.

How to Recover From Major Embarrassment.
Carly Jacobs

This week, I had a reader ask how to save face and move on if you’ve done something really embarrassing. Before we get on with it, I have to say that it is almost impossible to embarrass me. It can happen, but it’s rare. I’m the daughter of a nurse and a plumber so poos, wees and farts are child’s play in the embarrassment leagues for me and in my life I’ve worked with teenagers, drug addicts, prostitutes, kids with special needs, ridiculously stupid people and actors. There’s not a lot that shocks me. Believe me.

However if you were raised in civilised society as I clearly was not, here’s a few tips on how to deal with life’s little nasties. Hopefully, it will help you walk away from a red-faced moment with your dignity intact.

The Physical Faux Pas

I’m incredibly clumsy. I drop things, run into doorways and quite regularly fall down. Through out my years of public mishaps I’ve learned that the only way to deal with this is to be fabulous about it. I once fell down three flights of stairs, onto the stage of a theatre in front of 100 people. I cracked my face on my friends arse while simultaneously breaking my fall with both my knees on a concrete floor. It resulted in stunned silence from the entire audience and I ended up bleeding from nose to knees. It was humiliating, but I got up, faced the audience, did a little curtsy and asked if anyone could spare a tissue for my mass hemorrhage. Everyone laughed, realised I was okay and I ended up with plenty of tissues to mop up my rather frightening blood loss. It was so much better than if I had slunk, red-faced to my seat, burst into tears or left the theatre. It sucks if you fall over. It sucks even worse if you let it hurt your pride as well as your body.

The Body Blooper

I’m talking burps and farts here. I’ll start with burps. You can genteelly burp behind your hand and no one will ever know unless you ate a garlic kebab for lunch. If someone asks if you just burped, just reply honestly that yes, you did burp and apologise saying that you had garlic or whatever offensive food for lunch. Or beat them to it right after you burp by saying ‘I’m so sorry, you’ll have to forgive my breath. I ate this Greek salad for lunch it was full of garlic. Do you have a mint?’. Nipping it in the bud is always a great option.

As for the fart… all I can say is just try to pinch it off. Try hard. Really, really hard. It’s difficult to recover from a public fart. If it’s loud it’s awful, if it’s smelly it’s even worse. If one does slip out, as occasionally they do, blame it on something medical. Say you’re on antibiotics and they make you gassy or say you’re doing allergy testing so you’re eating unusual foods. Apologise quickly, and move on. After all, it is a normal bodily function so we should just unclench, pardon the pun.  Also, if you can blame someone else, do it. If you’re in a corridor, blame the guy that just walked past. If you’re in a mall, aim your fart at a kid and blame them. You can’t do this too often though or people will catch on that strangers seem to fart around you a lot. I have to reiterate that avoidance is truly key here, so work hard to suppress. Even if you have to make a little grunting noise. It’ll be way better than the fart, trust me.

The Slip of the Tongue

I once met a woman who said to me, mid-conversation ‘I love the Lord Jesus Christ. Love him, love him, love him.’ and I promptly laughed my arse off. Mistake. She wasn’t joking. She was the Pentecostal, organ playing, wife of a preacher. Like speaking in tongues and shit. Whoops. I apologised. Straight away and very sincerely. She brushed it off and we went back to our conversation. Then later, she said ‘It was so lovely to meet you. I would LOVE to set you up with my son. You’d be perfect for him. Well, except for the whole eternal damnation thing.‘ It was perfect, because I was sincere in my apology and continued our conversation despite a very obvious differing of opinion and she felt comfortable enough to have a joke about my slip of the tongue. Look, we all say unintentionally offensive things sometimes but I have to point out, it’s so much better if you realise it’s offensive at the time and can apologise and make things right. So the next time you accidentally make a joke about how rude French people are in front of a French person, be thankful of your awareness. Because you now have the power to fix it, rather than have that person walk away thinking you’re a jerk off.

The Monumental Eff Up

You screwed up at work. Big time. It’s a bad, stupid and idiotic mistake, and it’s not funny. You can’t blame it on a stinky kid and you can’t take a bow and demand applause. There’s only one thing to do. Own it. Apologise. Fix it. Do it quickly and never let it happen again. Also it helps to not have any opinions for at least a month and be really willing to do the coffee run. Just for a month until it all blows over.

The Prodigal Gossip

You said something not so great about someone else and it got back to them. First of all, naughty girl/boy. Gossip is nasty, but what’s done is done. When the person confronts you, you need to say ‘I’m really sorry. What I was trying to say was X and it came out as Y, and I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, I won’t do it again.’ Fights, feuds and bitchiness breeds when people don’t admit they are wrong. So save everyone a lot of time and negative energy and own it.

The bottom line is that you have the choice to be embarrassed about something and you have the choice to not be embarrassed. It takes some practice but you can re-learn your thinking and start to feel more positive about the little bumps in your life’s path.

Also… can you actually remember the last time you were really truly embarrassed? I can’t. Even the stories I’ve told for this piece didn’t really embarrass me at the time. They amused me more than anything. Honestly though? Time heals all wounds and it heals embarrassment the fastest. Just remember that.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or add me on Facebook. I talk about farts all the time on my various social media platforms.




  1. Maudie 7 years ago

    Day=made. Thankyou your ladyship 🙂 Most helpful. <3

  2. Harlow 7 years ago

    I was laughing so hard that my partner insisted that I read outloud. Of course, he like the fart tips best 😛

  3. Jessica Wright 7 years ago

    I don’t get embarrassed, at all, ever. My father was the most humiliating man on the planet, and after the incident when I was 11 and I had friends over for dinner and he (absolutely hilariously) used the bread to dip into the gravy to pretend the bread was using the bathroom? Yeah. Nothing really tops that.

    So when, at my 8th grade graduation, I tripped up the stairs to the stage, fell off the stage into the band, knocking out the tuba player, and breaking my ankle in the process? Not embarrassed at all.

  4. The Clothes Horse 7 years ago

    You’re amazing. I get so embarrassed so easily, but I’m getting better with age and I’ve taken to sharing some of my blunders on Twitter…having a laugh about it really helps me move past it. 🙂
    PS I don’t think I’ll be at IFB this year. Maybe we’ll bump into each other somewhere else while you’re in NYC? I’d really love to meet you in person! Will you be doing anything for FNO…?

  5. Jesse 7 years ago

    I don’t embarrass easily because frankly I’m clumsy and have foot in mouth disease so I just learned not to give a crap but on the rare occasion I am embarrassed by something I’ve done and someone brings it up, my technique is to promptly (and loudly) bring up something that embarrasses them. Usually something of equal or greater embarrassment. It’s not very nice but it’s effective.

  6. Rose Allred 6 years ago

    Today, I met, who I hoped would be my tenants. They showed me the available spaces for rent, two idealic studios on their beautiful farm. My heart was set on the studio cabin looking over a pond. Everything was going well until they invited me into their home and started asking questions about me and introducing me to their family. The conversation was going well until the wife-figure asked, “so you make cheese on a farm on the island? Sounds ideal.” I responded, “yes, it is so romantic.” This is where it gets bad. For some reason I thought they would assume I meant romantic in the sexual sense, and I didn’t want to seem sexual (because that would be a bad fit for a new tenant?) Confused at whether they understood my intention of the word, ‘Romantic’ I clarified, “Romantic in the…” (loss of words)… “romantic novel sense… I mean, not sexual romantic novel, ummm, like Romantic Era novel type of Romantic…” Red-faced, I plowed through and asserted a question to the wife-figure, hoping to distract from me, hoping to distract from how did not convince them at all of my intentions, yet rather completely convinced them of exactly what I was trying to disprove. This all resulted in a grand moment of silence with her husband, daughter, father, and also, unfortunately, my boss standing their, looking at me, red in the face. Awkward Silence.

    I just hope I still get the studio. I am still red in the face.

  7. Gail 5 years ago

    I farted at work (which happens to be a very corporate environment) today- it just came out as I stood up and it was just loud sound. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. None of my collegues spoke to me for the rest of the day. I’m mortified and thinking maybe I should resign- I don’t know how to recover from this….

    • Sam 4 years ago

      I’ve ripped it loudly several times at work and lost admirers and friends. Well, I can’t kill myself. It’s a problem I have to learn to live with. By the way, everyone farts many times in a day; nature made it so. Therefore, acting as though one hadn’t done it in public before is retarded. I don’t have to be friends with anyone who doesn’t like me. So, they can be on their own and leave me alone for all I care.

      • sara 3 years ago

        For the past few days I’ve been feeling extremely embarrassed because of an email I sent to someone I like last week. I really didn’t say anything wrong, but he hasn’t responded, so my first thought was: ‘OMG, he’s probably laughing out loud with his friends now thinking I’m a complete idiot to say such things’. But, frankly, I only expressed my own opinion and didn’t lie or exagerrate just to impress him. After reading your post I realised I really am an idiot, yes, to worry so much about what others think of me. Did I kill someone? No. Did I commit a terrible crime? No. Did I offend anyone? No. True, he could have found my letter to him amusing or even weird, so what. Perhaps, if he doesn’t accept me the way I am, I shouldn’t bother. I’ll wait and see what happens, but am I going to spend another week contemplating what I should have or should have not said to him? Not anymore. Even if he showed up at my door now and I accidentally farted, I would be OK.

  8. Ally 5 years ago

    Oml.So..My sister had her friends over.I had a really short haircut.Like a boy , in other words ;-; So..Her friends came in and I looked AWFUL.I looked so ugly as clothes and hair , I stood up , and just started crying to each one of the girls arms.My sister was like , its OKAY , laughing , thats its fine you look good…Im so embarrassed now..STILL CRYING :I I dont know what to wear or do now..Please help ;/

  9. Trudy 1 year ago

    I have gone through quite a difficult time intact I’ve been left with disability due to a very long prank .a practical joke that’s gone a bit wrong I’m the victim its effects for me are permanent. I can cope with embarrassment though ,I can laugh at myself and I accept my disability and how it’s impact of a stupid prank gone wrong is going to change everything for me. I can take a joke I have good humour I can laugh at myself and I can take embarrassment. Its when I’m the victim I don’t appreciate .I’m left with life changing disability through accidents that I had during a prank I didn’t know I was at the centre of. Quite a few folk must have been in on it but have obviously enjoyed watching my suffering. For me its permanent long lasting damage I won’t get any better now either. I’ve learnt to find coping strategies and ways of managing I am happy to laugh about my problems. I take one day at a time now because I’m a very patient person and I think if you have been at the centre of a prank gone wrong and your left injured and broke and lost everything all you can do is take one day at a time there are lessons to be learnt when putting someone through a cruel long prank that they didn’t know they were at the centre of handling embarrassment though ,is tough believe me I’ve had people embarrass thee crap out me lately and all you can do is grin and take it. It makes you stronger but it can also be be very hurtful and painful too .embarrassment when your grown up and mature and yet you can see how much someone keeps embarrassing you and paining you every day is an awful experience I’m suffering with the pain of being embarrassed and its putting me off wanting relationships because you feel that you have no privacy or that your being respected by others when others really embarrass you and I mean to the point of hacking prying wiring listening in eavesdropping watching you is way out of line. Without good reason of course …that goes without saying. Its making me back away from relationships because of trust issues that I’m being laughed at and turned into one big embarrassment its mortifying what levels of embarrassment I’ve had to cope with. I don’t see how I can ever recover after what I’ve been put through I want to love and be happy but I’ve been wronged that much and that hurt and pained and embarrassed I’m backing away I am very open and honest and don’t mind being like that ,but to put me through major wembarrassment like I am at the moment is a prank that’s been taken a step too far. Thing is professionally its embarrassing too very embarrassing. Especially when you are professional and you handle stuff professionally also I would not put anyone through what I’ve been put through ..I couldn’t after everything I’ve coped with its safe to say I’m learning to cope with embarrassment .there is always someone who loves to embarrass you and does it deliberately. To cause annoyance. I have to smile whilst gritting my teeth and just try not to get upset. When people are embarrassing you by prying into your love life and spying on you and watching you is not funny ..not without good reason that is .I’ve lost my privacy because I’ve been pryed upon you leave your dignity at the door embarrassment can hurt for a long time !

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