How Can I Embarrass Myself on Purpose?

Tips on How to Do Silly Things to Challenge Your Social Anxiety

Make a fool of yourself on purpose to ease anxiety.
Embarrass yourself by doing silly things. Getty / Loop Delay

Have you ever considered embarrassing yourself on purpose? This practice, also known as "constructive embarrassment," is similar to carrying out exposures in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

The idea is that by doing things that you find embarrassing on purpose, you will learn that you can handle your feelings in those situations.

  • Choose a situation in which to practice
  • Get into the right frame of mind
  • Complete the action that you find embarrassing

Though this process is not easy, it is worth doing to change the way you perceive situations.

The key is to brace yourself for the potential embarrassment and welcome the feelings of humiliation. It is even possible that you will not end up feeling embarrassed or that others will not even really take notice of what you are doing.

When you practice these tasks, be sure to have a positive and open frame of mind. Smile, laugh to yourself and relax. Perhaps easier said than done, but with time it will come naturally.

Below is a list of potential items for your "constructive embarrassment" list. There are of course many items that you could add that would be more specific to your fears. As with exposures, choose the easier ones to do first and build up to the harder ones.

You might feel that doing some of these things is a waste of your time and the time of those around you.

Remember that your goal is not the actual task but to induce the feeling of embarrassment and be okay with it.

Task List

  1. Pretend to have a coughing fit.
  2. Wear a ball dress when you're not going to a ball.
  3. Draw a terrible sketch and ask people what they think.
  4. Send somebody the wrong type of greeting card.
  1. Pretend to forget your phone number when someone asks.
  2. Wear your shoes on the wrong feet.
  3. Sit in the wrong seat on an airplane.
  4. Ask where the garbage is in a restaurant when you are standing beside it.
  5. Call up a restaurant and ask to order food they don't serve.
  6. Walk into a movie after it has already started.
  7. Pay with the wrong currency.
  8. Do a cartwheel in the park.
  9. Pretend to trip.
  10. Call someone by the wrong name.
  11. Ask a telemarketer if you can call him back.
  12. Try to buy movie tickets for a movie that isn't playing.
  13. Spill your drink in a fancy restaurant.
  14. On the elevator turn and face everyone instead of looking forward.
  15. Leave the house with food on your face.
  16. If you are a student, ask the question in class that you are afraid to ask because you might look dumb.
  17. Parallel park when you know you are holding up traffic.
  18. Take a really long time at the ATM and talk to yourself.
  19. Take an embarrassing item to the checkout without a price tag.
  20. Go to a restaurant on your birthday where you know they will sing to you. Tell them it is your birthday.
  21. Skip down the street instead of walking.
  22. Blank out during a speech on purpose.
  23. Make your hands shake on purpose when you sign something.
  24. Order a messy meal like spaghetti on a date.


    Scott Young. Building Confidence with Constructive Embarrassment. Accessed May 30th, 2013.

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