A couple of weeks ago I attended a ballroom competition where I hoped to improve over a previous performance.
While I improved in one of the areas I focused on (musicality/being on time with the music), a couple of areas in my dancing simply didn’t improve.
My teacher had really harped upon the need for outstanding posture. I thought he was being extreme his request. I remembered what I had learned in my yoga training—that you had to hold a little bit back from some teachers. Otherwise they might push you beyond where your body was made to go.
So my teacher pointed out over and over again in the video where my posture was just ok (or worse)…and how it affected where I placed in the competition.
The value in embarrassment (and especially shame and guilt) turns one inward; to reassess what/where we can do better. Sometimes we can only improve when we acknowledge what we did wrong.
In addition to motivating us to do better in the future, embarrassment serves another function. According to University of California, Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, expressing embarrassment or shame endears you to others.
When my teacher expressed surprise at how easily I integrated better posture into my technique after the competition, I told him that embarrassment was an outstanding motivator.
He called me a good sport.
May we pursue our paths, using earned embarrassment to fuel better behaviors,