Whether it’s a bowel, gas, or bladder moment, when they happen, it’s just one of those uncomfortable moments. Psychologists say there are two ways to confront awkward situations— avoidance/denial, or confronting it head-on. We advocate for the latter. You can speak directly to them, or help your partner keep the incident quiet to others, but don’t ignore or diminish their experience. Here are some ideas…
- Use some gentle humor (as you help): * We came prepared for this because we’re brilliant. It’s time for step two in carrying out our awesomeness. Let’s take care of this and then find some way to celebrate how incredible we obviously are. * Don’t worry, this happens all the time. Just happened to me this morning! * What is it that Shrek says? “Better out than in!” * Wow, your eyes are gorgeous! * That was just a 7.4. Man, I dropped a 9.6 the other day! * The Book of Awkward says you’ve got 29 more chances at raising your awkward bar to full throttle... You’re lucky. I’ve only got four more… * When I drop a silent one in public, I always step away and look momentarily mortified at someone else next to me, so I come off looking innocent…
- Shift attention/funny story. For example, if in a waiting room, “See that guy over there— you know what happened to him on the way in? His pants fell down. Yep, to his ankles. True story.” If at home, you can reiterate the same thing, but insert yourself into the story, “You know what I did this morning at the grocery store? Showed up without my pants. True story!”
- Voice of reason: * While I know you’re embarrassed, people around here see this every day. * Don’t worry, you’ll never see any of these people again (if in public). * I’m sorry that happened to you. Stuff happens. Tell me what’s the first thing you want me to do to help right now.
- Simple reassurance: *I’ve got you. Or — I’ve got your six. *We’re prepared. *You’re safe with me. *Remember, we’re not panicking. *Breathe. *Focus on me. Or — Lets refocus.
- Empathize. * I snore. Loudly. * I always seem to pass gas right when…. * I get a little of what you feel. When I sweat, it’s not pretty… And rough on anyone around me, no matter what product I use. * When I sneeze, I always end up slathering the room and half the people in it with gross. I hate these uncontrollable moments too. Share an embarrassing moment that happened to you where you felt vulnerable/how you got past it.
- Just act. Quickly. Simply start helping them. What is their immediate need? Jump into action, and quickly. The sooner the problem is solved, the less embarrassed they will be.
- Look Forward. Tomorrow we will wake up and this will be a, “Well-that-sucky- moment; glad it’s over.” For now, I’m going to get you cleaned up so they let us leave the building.”
- Great Escape. Help them get the heck out of there! If they’re in a grocery store, medical office, and so forth, either casually walk behind them or with themso they don’t feel alone, or if they like humor, find a fun/humorous way to escort them out. “Well, now we get to leave in a blaze of glory! Eyes are already on us! Should I carry you on my back, or shall we tie our legs together like a three-legged race?”