May 01

The Counter State of Embarrassment

Speaker: Joseph Ch’ng


Joseph P2I was at the Star Vista mall the other day, and I was looking for the toilet. Being in a rushy state, and rather desperate as well… I almost walked into the ladies’ toilet.


And I was “caught”… because a lady was coming out of the toilet… Luckily she didn’t scream… but boy I sure was embarrassed about that and my face turned to something like this.

It was later that day when I rethink about this, I asked myself, why was I embarrassed about making a mistake?


Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Can I get a show of hands how many of you here don’t like to be in an embarrassing situation?

How many of you here would prefer no one notice you when you make an embarrassing mistake?

We have something in common. (Grin)

The question I asked myself “why was I embarrassed about making a mistake?” – it had made me realize that there could be a harsher truth about embarrassment.

That is – every single time I make a mistake and I feel embarrassed about it, or I even tried to cover it up; I am actually telling myself it is not ok to make mistakes… I am reinforcing this thought to myself that I cannot accept my mistakes and imperfections.

And the thing is, imagine doing this again and again to myself over the years, how much damage it would have done to my overall self-acceptance level, how I feel about myself, my overall level of happiness.

This is certainly not something I want in my life. I want to be confident, I want to be happy, and I want to be comfortable in my own skin.

To get to that, I realized, I have to start treating mistakes differently.

And that brought me to look at the counter state of mistakes and embarrassment. It’s called self-trust.

I would like to share with you 3 things I have learned about building self-trust.


The first thing I have learned about self-trust is when I make a mistake, it is good to apologize sincerely, but I don’t need to explain myself.

I noticed that every single time I tried to explain myself in hopes that people would understand, I no longer have the power to decide that I will be ok. I have given it away for other people to decide that I will be ok.

By choosing to not explain myself, it is a pattern breaker. It is training myself to be ok with my mistakes… Seeing mistakes as part and parcel of my life; just like eating, showering and sleeping. Things we do every day. And Everything moves on.


The second thing I have learned about self-trust is I don’t need wait for people’s approval to do something.

By this, I don’t mean you should go ahead book that expensive business-class ticket to Japan without approval from your boss.

Let me give you an example so that you can relate to this. Think about Steve Jobs. He didn’t wait for the market to approve of his vision of how the iPhone should be, did he?

He would build the best iPhone he would love to use and then present it to the market. He simply trusted in his vision, he trusted his product, and as a matter of fact, because of this, we trusted him even more.


The third thing I have learned about self-trust is that in the face of difficulty, we just need to tell someone “I will do it”.

It is about making a commitment; like committing to do your speech, one month before the next meeting – even though you don’t have a topic yet, even though you have not been speaking for the past 8 years.

If you declare your commitment to someone and you really mean it, this will be very powerful because at the subconscious level, this is equivalent to declaring “I am willing to do it even though I am going to make mistakes and I am imperfect.” Imagine how many seeds of self-trust we are planting, if we keep doing this.

Again, the key here is to tell someone, and mean it.


As toastmasters, I guess probably all of us who comes up here to speak, we can all relate to the inner struggle, the fear that we might make mistake and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone. (I don’t know… maybe Clement or Glenn don’t have such fear..)

Well, I would like to make a suggestion – that when we come for meeting each month, we see this as an opportunity, a training ground to develop our self-trust, a place we actively support each other develop our self-trust.

Self-trust is a very powerful thing. Not only it helps us make peace with our imperfections, it gives us confidence, it gives us charisma. As you build up self-trust in yourselves, you will realize that almost like a miracle, people will start treating you differently, people will get attracted to you, even without you do anything. Isn’t that a useful benefit to have?

So building on self-trust, the next time if I ever step into the ladies’ toilet again (unintentionally, of course)… it is ok… I will just apologize, and walk out.


Leave some love below! <3