No one, enjoys feeling awkward in a social situation. Except maybe Ricky Gervais. He did, after all, write one a fantastic series filled with awkward, cringe-worthy moments, The Office. But unlike the rest of us, Michael Scott and David Brent (the boss in the UK version) never really learned how not to be awkward.
In some cases, awkwardness can be avoided by reading the room (aka that thing Michael Scott doesn't do). In other cases, you may think you've read the room and then suddenly you've said something that makes someone super uncomfortable or broken out into a song and dance, only to realize this is not a song-and-dance-type-of-crowd. At other times, you may have just gotten too in your head and blurted out the one thing you really didn't want to say to an entire room of people who hardly know you.
But no matter the reason why you've found yourself in an awkward situation, remember that absolutely everyone has been there. The key to dealing with awkward situations is to get yourself, at least mentally, out of it. Here are seven ways to do just that, from focusing your thoughts to reminding yourself you're entitled to your opinion.
1. Focus On Your Breathing
"Just breathe," Marianne Clyde, LMFT, tells Bustle. It might seem easier said than done, but breathing in awkward situations can bring you back down to your center. Even if you don't anticipate any awkward situations in your near future, knowing a handful of breathing techniques is always a good idea. You never know when you're going to need them, from nervousness, to anxiety, to stress, breathing always helps.
2. Tell Yourself This
"[Tell yourself] it doesn't matter what they think of me," says Clyde. Which, honestly, is true. How one perceives you has nothing to do with you. Also, we never really know the perceptions people have of us. For example, you could be feeling awkward as hell in a situation where the people around you don't see any awkwardness at all.
3. Remind Yourself No One Is Perfect
Remember when Jennifer Lawrence tripped up the stairs to accept her Oscar? Actually, do you remember all the times Lawrence tripped and fell in public? Sure, it's awkward, but awkwardness happens. So when you're feeling awkward, Clyde suggests reminding yourself of a very important fact of life: nobody is perfect. And, if someone were, how boring for them and everyone else!
4. Let The Moment Go
"The more you focus on the fact that you are embarrassed or self-conscious, the more obvious it will be," says Clyde. "It will pass."
Although it might be your nature to over-analyze things and let them drive you mad, you need to let it go. The longer you let yourself linger on what happened, the longer the awkwardness will last. It's only when we stop overthinking things that we can move forward.
5. Tell Yourself You're Entitled To Your Opinion
If your awkwardness stems from people's reaction to something you said, it's important to remember your opinion is valid. It's also important to remind yourself that we all have opinions and if they don't fit in a certain social setting, it doesn't mean that you're wrong.
"You have a right and an obligation to say what you really think," says Clyde. "Everyone has an opinion. And it's just that: an opinion."
6. Don't Be Afraid To Stand By Your Convication
Sometimes our awkwardness comes because we've backed down from our stance on something. It's in these moments that we can feel like we've betrayed ourselves and, in doing so, feel awkward about it.
"Be kind," says Clyde. "Be straightforward." No one can fault you for your honesty and kindness, and you certainly can't fault yourself for it either.
7. Realize You Can't Please Everyone
No matter what you do in life, there will be someone you will piss off. Even if you're doing the right and ethical thing, someone won't agree and call you out on it in a negative light. Once you realize that, you can take your awkward feeling down a few notches.
"It is not possible to please everyone," says Clyde, "so just do (say) what you think is best."
The only way to avoid an awkward situation for the rest of your life is to never leave your house. But what fun would that be? Life is awkward and messy and complicated. You will feel out of place sometimes and that's OK. Once you know how to handle that awkwardness, you can stop fearing it... because there's no cap on how many awkward situations we'll find ourselves in during our lifetime.