Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Hello Mi Neighbour | Don’t let embarrassment cripple you

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Hello, mi neighbour! As a child, I remember Maas T – a very kind but stern father who had no qualms about administering discipline to his children even in public – not one to “spoil the child and spare the rod”.

As far as he was concerned, none of his children was going to end up as a lawbreaker like “other children who grew up without discipline and end up embarrassing their parents and the community”. He would have none of that.

A little interjection about embarrassment: it is said that embarrassment typically occurs where there is failure to meet accepted social standards: forgetting a person’s name, speaking out of turn, not being aware of standard protocols, causing others to feel embarrassed, and so on

According to the psychologist, these social blunders can lead to negative self-assessment and result in lifelong failure if left untreated. Let’s help especially the young and impressionable not to become long-term victims of embarrassment. Nuff said.

I vividly recall being at a gathering where Maas T turned up and ‘fetched’ his teenaged son an embarrassing box in the face in the presence of everyone. As a reflex action, the embarrassed son paid his father the same compliment, making him equally embarrassed. If you were father or son, how would you react under these circumstances? Well, the father walked away as the son stood motionless, trying to regain his composure. It was a very awkward moment but that was that. Life goes on even with its embarrassing moments.

Often, in embarrassing moments, whether in public, staff meeting or wherever, there is usually a wish for some sort of pill that can kill the acute social pain called embarrassment, but no such luck. Researchers believe that though very painful at times, embarrassment is a very important state of being. “Its purpose is to make people feel badly about their social or personal mistakes as a form of internal (or societal) feedback, so that they learn not to repeat the error.”


The physiological changes like blushing, sweating, or stammering that one experiences during the moment of embarrassment may signal to others that someone actually recognises their error, and so is not cold-hearted or oblivious. In fact, studies have shown that people who become embarrassed after committing a “bad act” are perceived as more reliable and likeable than those who don’t.

As we go through life, it is important that we build strong anti-embarrassment muscles, in order to bear the brunt of the challenges that life throws your way.

To build these muscles, we must subdue those expectations, which leave no room for mistakes. Otherwise, we are setting the stage for failure.

During the muscle-building exercise, we must ask: what expectations do I have of myself in this particular circumstance? Are they realistic and reasonable? Do they allow me room to make mistakes? Because mistakes are a healthy and natural part of life, be at peace with yourself and others.

Do not become crippled by embarrassment when things don’t turn out as expected. Everyone is fallible, no matter how he/she appears on the surface. Every mistake you make is nothing more than a learning experience that will help you get better the next time around.

Nonetheless, while embarrassment may have its pluses, we should endeavour to avoid it at all costs and seek every opportunity not to cause it.

Please help someone from list below:



1. Everybody’s Pharmacy for act of neighbourliness.

2. Richard, USA, for donation.

3. Novie, for donating clothing, fan and night light to a needy neighbour.

4. Neighbour, St Catherine, for donation of household items for needy neighbours.



1. Donna, St Thomas: unemployed, stroke victim, in need of financial assistance to start chicken rearing.

2. Ilene: asking for a second-hand blackhead machine.

3. Grandmother: asking for a barber chair for unemployed grandson.

To help, please call Silton Townsend @ 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR c/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; Paypal/credit card: email: Contact email: Visit Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.