How do you overcome an embarrassing mistake and forgive yourself?

I am becoming a Water Safety Instructor but I didn't have enough for a proper swimsuit. I was told by a boy in class that my top was displaying everything. I was very embarrassed.

Sarah McIntyre
Sarah McIntyre
Sarah McIntyre, M.Ed., LPC
I also want to note that we, as a society, are especially judgemental about how women dress and present themselves.  I am sorry that this boy said something insensitive.  There is nothing shameful about your body and it was not your intention to "display everything."  It also wasn't his place to judge you. 

As women we are expected to be sexy in some situations and demure in others.  Men don't have the same range of societal expectations to navigate.  

You didn't deserve his rudeness.  
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Deana Bieker
Deana Bieker
Winter is Coming.

First I think we have to acknowledge that you are doing something amazing.  You are putting yourself out there and becoming a Water Safety Instructor.   We often times will focus on the negative and forget about the positive.  Next, you had an incident where someone pointed something out which may have caused embarrassment.  Whether or not it was malicious on his part I think the important thing to focus on is what is called "Common Humanity".  Common Humanity is one of the three elements of self-compassion.  Common humanity essentially recognizes that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience.  While you may have had this embarrassing moment at this time, that boy may have had an embarrassing moment another day.  We all have embarrassing moments.  When we recognize that we do not suffer in isolation then we are able to move past that suffering.  Additionally another element to self-compassion is self-kindness.  My question is why must you forgive yourself?  Rather, be kind to yourself for learning an amazing new talent. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell Coach and Counsel

As far as I can tell, you received unwanted attention, but you didn't do anything wrong.  What did your instructor say? Anything? If the outfit was not appropriate then the instructor should tell you--If he/she didn't then assume the swimsuit was okay, but the gentleman in the class wanted your attention and took it upon himself to comment, in order to get that attention.  If you don't want his attention then you have a couple of choices--wear a shirt  over the swim top, find an inexpensive swim top to replace the one you have, or wear what you have as long as the instructor doesn't say anything, and if you get unwanted attention say in as confident, slightly loud, voice as you can muster.  "I don't appreciate your critique of what I'm wearing, we're here to take a class, let's just focus on that. Then,  Turn on your heel and walk away.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Everybody does something or a few things in their life which looking back, the person wishes they hadn't.

The key to feeling better is to realize that as long as you learn something for the future from your mistake, then you will be doing all that any human being is capable of doing.

Your mistake sounds genuine, not that you were deliberately trying to create a stir or harm yourself or anyone.

Now that this student in your class pointed out your mistake, you will learn to notice the appearance of your swimwear.

Put in context that feeling foolish for doing something embarrassing means that overall, you generally do most activity in your life, in non-foolish ways.

The incident would only bother someone who generally is responsible.  The mistake is a contrast with what is usual behavior for you.

I hope you'll enjoy swimsuit shopping and find a beautiful bargain!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Marsha Mandel
Marsha Mandel
Mandel Counseling

Sometimes we make ourselves feel worse with our own thoughts about things we can't change. We know that it is possible to overcome embarrassment and self-blame, but why does it seem so difficult to overcome it sometimes? If you tune into your own thoughts, or your "internal dialogue", you'll notice that your thoughts are connected to your feelings. So people who are holding onto embarrassment and self-blame often have thoughts like, "How could I do that?", "I looked so stupid!" "Now people saw things I did not want them to see!" If we tune in more, we might notice we are thinking that this is terrible, horrible, and that we cannot deal with it. These are self-sabotaging thoughts that lead to shame, self-blame and embarrassment. If you look at the evidence, you can find more rational thoughts such as, " We all make mistakes", "People can look all different ways at different time - this incident does not define me!" and "If someone has a bad image or thought about me, it is really OK! People have all kinds of thoughts about other people, and it does not have to be a major problem." When you practice your rational thoughts often and replace the negative ones, you will start to feel better, more confident and your embarrassment will decrease quickly.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

First of all, congratulations to you on becoming a Water Safety Instructor.

As far as how to forgive yourself, this is probably one of the toughest things that we ask of ourselves, no matter the subject. On the other hand, it sounds like the location of the mistake means that after you get through the class, you won't see the same people much longer, so hopefully the embarrassment will be temporary.

As far as the class, maybe you can give yourself compassion for the idea that we all make mistakes and it certainly sounds like it wasn't intentional. I think we have all had a swimsuit shift in unwanted direction.

Trying to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen again would probably be helpful, but it sounds like you are already doing that. Something else you could do is think of something you can say to yourself when someone says something embarrassing about that occurrence, such as "it was an accident and I have fixed it now."

You may find some helpful tips here http://tinybuddha.com/blog/let-go-past-mistakes-6-steps-forgiving/ or here http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-do-you-forgive-yourself/ . These are not meant to be resources related to religion, but it is mentioned in a few places.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.

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