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We all have our moments when our brain shuts down, and we do stupid things. We’re talking about those most embarrassing moments that stay with you forever. The ones you play out in your mind over and over again when you’re lying awake in bed at 2 a.m., fighting the thought that the person who witnessed your silly actions might still remember them.

Well, we have good news for you. Even if they do, they’re probably too busy stressing over their own embarrassing moments in public to think about yours. And there’s even a thread on X (formerly Twitter) that perfectly illustrates this point.

In the post, a woman confessed to the internet about the time she accidentally attempted to steal a man’s food. While he was holding it!

As the thread went viral, people began relating to it and sharing similar embarrassing stories. We compiled the most embarrassing moments people admitted to, hoping they will help you to accept your own shortcomings and move on. Nobody's perfect!

A Study on Awkward Situations and How to Deal With Them

According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., ABPP, a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whether you’re a repeat offender or only occasionally find yourself in awkward situations, it’s helpful to know how to navigate and recover from embarrassment.

Fortunately, there’s a study by John Jay College professor Joshua Clegg that provides some guidance on how to battle these unforgettable embarrassing moments.

“Defining socially awkward situations as ‘problematic instances of social affiliation,’ Clegg bases his work on the theory that most people have a need to belong,” Whitbourne explained. “This desire for affiliation leads us to engage in self-regulation, in which we are constantly on the lookout to see what other people think about us. When we think that people are evaluating us negatively, our sense of self takes a huge hit.”

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Meeple13
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Poor guy would probably get the same response at other bars too, awareness needs to be raised.

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Study Approach: Deciphering Embarrassing Stories

To gain insight into the experience of feeling socially awkward, Clegg undertook what scientists call a narrative study, in which he and his research team asked participants to report in-depth about a particular instance.

They used a semi-structured interview that allowed participants the freedom to describe their embarrassing stories and experiences but also provided some guidance so that the responses would be easily interpretable.

Clegg and his team discussed each of the responses, searching for common themes. The participants included undergraduates as well as people of different ages and walks of life, including a man in his 90s.

The goal was to go in-depth into the respondents’ narratives rather than to count proportions, as is done in other similar surveys. This made the findings particularly helpful in gaining an inside look into the experience of embarrassing things in social environments.

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Cheyanne Pavan
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

He was probably just relieved to have a regular lunch with a regular person who didn't fawn all over him!

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What Are the Examples of Embarrassing Situations?

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“Tense or uncertain social situations were the first type of awkwardness that Clegg and his team identified,” Whitbourne said.

“These could be sudden (as when you drop or spill something) but often are ones that you expect ahead of time to be awkward. For example, Clegg described the experience of meeting the parents of one’s significant other. In general, the less you know what to expect about a situation, the more you anticipate it to be awkward. If you’re lucky, though, the situation doesn’t turn out as badly as you expected, so the awkwardness is never realized.”

Awkwardness might take the form of a perceived transgression. For instance, imagine you say or do something that goes over the boundaries of taste or propriety. (You could make a joke about someone you don't know very well but only realize after you’ve blurted out the comment that it went too far.)

It’s awkward not only to commit a social transgression like this but to also be part of a group in which these embarrassing things are done by someone else.

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BC_Animus
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How did she even get into the stolen car? And how were her and the cops trying to start the car? Did her key fit into the ignition?

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What Happens When You Get into an Embarrassing Situation?

“During an awkward moment, you’re likely to feel intense focusing of social attention. Time may seem too slow or stop, as in your mind (and possibly in reality), you’ve become the target of everyone’s gaze,” Whitbourne said.

"You feel anxious and embarrassed and perhaps even experience sweaty palms and heart palpitations. Although some individuals enjoy being the center of attention, particularly those high in narcissism, after committing a social transgression, the feeling that others are staring is typically uncomfortable during or following an awkward moment.”

Once you start to feel awkward, chances are that you’ll behave in ways that become even more awkward, creating even more embarrassing situations.

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Jules.
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Me Irish reading this. Scratching my head thinking must be a tiny island off Scotland.

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“Your anxiety may lead you to laugh anxiously, speak in a wavering tone of voice, look uncomfortable, and blush or stammer. At the same time, other people in the room may themselves feel an empathic kind of awkwardness. They think about what it might be like if the awkward thing happened to them but also might feel that your behavior makes them look bad. What if you bring a friend to a party, and the friend spills soda all over herself? You might be glad that at least none of it got on you, but you might also feel that everyone else will judge you as clumsy, too, because it was your friend,” the professor continued.

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Clegg and his team noted that the respondents were anxious to make all of these awkward situations go away as fast as possible. As one participant stated, “I felt like the longer I let it sit, the more it would fester and just be uncomfortable and leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.”

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Noir
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Omg. I would not be able to hold it together. Full puke mode. Full projectile vomiting. That's just rancid.

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How to Deal With an Embarrassing Situation? 

"When you’ve committed an awkward act, there are two broad alternatives: pretend it didn’t happen (avoidance) or confront it directly,” Whitbourne highlighted.

"Comedian Chevy Chase, in his early days, was the master of launching a grand pratfall from which he jumped up and moved on as if nothing had occurred. It may be funny for a comedian to commit such a faux pas, but when it happens to you, there’s nothing humorous about it.”

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In an avoidant response, you try to distance yourself from the situation by averting your gaze, or you might just simply get up and leave when the first opportunity presents itself.

Unfortunately, however, pretending something bad didn’t happen doesn't make it go away.

“You might decide that since there’s nothing you can do, it is best to forget it and move on, but at least in some people’s minds, it’s not been resolved,” Whitbourne said.

One example Clegg provides is of a young woman in a pool whose swimsuit had come off. It was one of those embarrassing moments in public, but rather than owning up to her feelings, she just swam away as quickly as possible, hoping that no one noticed (though, of course, they probably did).

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ohjojo (you/your's)
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Living in the Caribbean I was at the beach all the time. Went to take off my shorts. Dropped them and pulled them up real quick. Forgot to put on my swimsuit

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Lovin' Life
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Very innocent mistake. Me being the fixer I am would have probably done the same of at least asked if she needed help.

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BC_Animus
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This guy was very generous I must say - a strange woman is eating his muffin in front of him and he didn't say a word, he just sat there and shared his food.

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Handling an Embarrassing Situation Using Humor

“A much better strategy for resolving awkwardness is confronting it directly,” Whitbourne said. In most cases that Clegg investigated, even the most embarrassing situations were resolved best through humor.

“This has to apply to you when you’re the one who’s committed the awkward act. You won't gain friends if you use humor to make fun of their awkwardness. However, your friends will feel a lot better about the situation and probably admire you for your courage when you own up to a social transgression. You don't have to be a professional comedian to know how to use humor in an awkward situation. Even saying ‘awkward!’ can do the trick.”

But since everyone has had embarrassing things happen to them, there’s no point in imagining that you can be immune from them and scrutinize yourself when you create one too.

Instead, by showing that you’re able to acknowledge even the most embarrassing situation and handle it, you will minimize its effects on the way others view you—and how you view yourself.

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Mahogany Eclipse
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm sorry for their loss, this also gave me a serious case of the giggles 😂😂😂😂

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BC_Animus
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Never take your jacket off in public - that is how cannibalism starts.

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Xandra
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My husband did that, in the big trash can behind our block. He had to bend over in the bin, half of him was inside, digging through garbage bags. A neighbor asked "Are you looking for something doc?" Well duh...

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MTEfres
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Was leaving the mall and got in my Jeep, would not start. Same make model color and my keys unlocked the door, was sitting in car parked right next to mine.

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Casey
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And those people became her new parents. I am assuming that she "brilliantly hid" inside the car.

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Kiryn Silverwing
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If I lived somewhere that used to be a public place, I'd be a lot more careful about keeping my doors locked.

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Annie Bieber
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My son was 2...we lived on a USMC Air Station...pulling up to the base MacDonalds I see a van load of FA-18 Pilots in their flight 🛩 suits..."Nice buns" I remarked. We get in line behind them & my son yells "NICE BUNS" at top of his toddler lungs... they laughed...I died a slow painful death...⚰.

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アニカ ゲルストナー
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I am from Germany and those are not tip jars but usually donation jars for various organizations like helping poor children

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Note: this post originally had 86 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.