Dealing with embarassment

In my last blog post, I talked about getting visible online after a break or if you’re starting from scratch.

Now I’d like to talk about one of the specific hurdles people talk to me about when they are starting to promote themselves online, and that’s dealing with embarrassment. 

People feel like it’s really embarrassing to show up as themselves online. 

And, yeah, it can be. 

I suffer badly from self-doubt. In fact, I’ve written a whole blog post about that already. Feeling like I’m not doing a good enough job means when I do show up, it can feel quite embarassing.

I mean, in my first Instagram live, the video was watched by maybe one person when it was live.  I saved it to IGTV.  The last three or four minutes completely cut off. 

PLUS, halfway through the video, my kids were shouting at me and I had to go downstairs.

That’s not ideal. 

All kind of embarassing. Certainly not slick and professional. 

But, it seemed to click. I had some nice comments. I got a few really nice messages about it.  

And it did its job. 

I want to show up online because it reminds people about me. They might turn into clients, or they might refer me to people who become clients, or they might want to work with me in other ways.

Off the back of the first video, I had a sale of my content marketing bundle and someone got in touch with me to ask if I would be interested in running a (paid) workshop.

It did feel embarassing to do, but I’m very happy to have done it.

These are some things that have really helped me to deal with this.

Everyone feels like a fraud

The first is to recognise that everyone suffers from self-doubt to some extent.

If you were to stand on a balcony in a very busy train station, and look down onto the concourse at all the people going to and fro: every single one of those people feels like a fraud. 

Maybe not all of the time, but often enough for them to recognise the emotion. 

I think that is just the natural human condition, to feel like, “Oh shit. That person knows more than me.” 

Some people mask it really well, and other people can’t deal with it at all. 

But I do genuinely believe that everybody on this planet has it to some degree. Learning that EVEN ALAIN DE BOTTON feels this way was like a lightening bolt for me.

Separate fact from emotion

When you are experiencing self-doubt, a useful exercise I’ve learned from my coach is to identify which emotions are based on reality and which ones are just my extrapolating on my feelings. 

I DO know what I’m talking about when it comes to content marketing and book marketing in particular. I have years of experience. I do it every day. I do it for fun as well as as job.

If I were to go and present a paper on particle physics to a room of particle physicians, I would be screwed. 

I know so little about that, I’m not even sure I could define it. 

It would be awful. 

But if I were to go and speak to the same people about using their social media profile, I probably would get on ok. 

Even if they were already online, and weren’t starting from scratch, I think I’d feel confident that I knew 10% more than them, and could help them to learn something new.

If you are helping people, that is an easy way to remove the embarassment. It’s about them learning, not you teaching.


The other thing is judgement, which is a really big one. When we show up online, we’re putting ourselves out there for anyone to see, and sometimes that’s going to mean people who don’t ‘get’ the online business world and don’t understand why you are doing what you do.

They might be people you went to school with or family members, or even colleagues you might have worked with a long time ago.

This is likely going to be a side to you they have never seen, and that can feel quite exposing and embarrassing, too. 

The truth is that people may well judge you for putting yourself out there. But that says more about them, and their fears around their own life, than it does about what you are doing.

Who are you speaking to?

When that kind of feeling raises its head, go back to basics. Think about who you are actually doing this for.

Chances are, this won’t be their cup of tea either, so they won’t engage with it. And if they stop engaging, you’ll very quickly stop appearing in their feed. Knowing that they probably aren’t seeing the content anyway can be quite reassuring!

So rather than thinking about your old school teacher or that guy you dated a few years ago when you do it, think about who you really do want to speak to.

What is your purpose?

As well as keeping your ideal audience in mind, remember WHY you are doing this. What outcome are you hoping for, and how does this fit in with that?

Curate your followers

If the idea of certain people following you is completely blocking you from putting yourself you there, you are totally entitled to stop them following you. 

You could block them, you can put them on limited profile, or you could hide them from your stories.  It doesn’t need to be forever, but it can really help to become more confident if you don’t have that worry in the back of your mind that you are being judged.

Embarrassment is a Spectrum

And then the final point is, embarrassment can be seen as a spectrum. 

I find it ok to just accept that doing a video online is quite embarrassing and push through it, but it can also be quite debilitating for people. 

If you are finding that the feelings of self-doubt or worry of judgement is making it absolutely impossible, it might be worth speaking to somebody like a therapist or a coach who specialises in this area.

There are often some really deep issues behind these fears, and they can crop up when you’re trying to be more visible. If that’s the case, the absolute best thing you can do for your business, and for yoursef, is to find someone to talk about it with.

Do you ever get struck with embarassment when you’re promoting yourself online? How does it show up for you?

Need help figuring out why you’re online or who you’re speaking to? Buy my 7 Steps to Create an Effective Online Content Plan for just £20 here.


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