When I think back to the most embarrassing times in my life, nothing quite gives me the chills more than the time I decided to rap at a high school football pep session. Sadly, the moment was captured on film (pictured above). I never shied away from a microphone before this rap, and I’ve never shied away from a microphone since that rap. I had every reason on the planet to never pickup a microphone again. I had every reason never to step in front of an audience again. But I know that being embarrassed is never a good reason to stop trying. And what’s more, being embarrassed is never a good reason to shy away from asking for help.
I was speaking with a senior banking executive the other day, and he relayed a brilliant story to me. A customer of the financial institution was meeting with a credit counseling service that the institution provides. During the meeting, the customer said that she’s been struggling for a very long time, but she’s been too embarrassed to ask for help. Because of this random meeting with this credit counselor, she was able to seek help. The financial institution has started to now study how they can make themselves available to their customers – in the face of embarrassment.
Think of all the things that embarrassment prevents from happening: sobriety, financial stability, weight loss, relationship reconciliation, and spiritual peace. We are all flawed in just about every area of our lives. Hell, I’m financially flawed just like everyone else, and I teach personal finance to the world. The embarrassment that comes with seeking helps comes in different forms. For instance, with men, pride is usually the main factor. Generally speaking, men don’t like to seek help, especially when the help is needed due to previous bad decisions.
Another classic case of embarrassment avoidance is when a high income household doesn’t want to face the music. The music in question? Making “plenty of money” and having nothing, of substance, to show for it. All the “things” are embarrassing when the “things” aren’t accompanied by financial security. That $50,000 car is stupid, if there isn’t true financial security to support it. That penchant for fine dining is foolish, if there isn’t true financial security to support it. Do you know what embarrassment really is? Embarrassment is when you finally choose to own up to reality. This isn’t a bad thing. This a wonderful thing. Why am I still embarrassed by my pep session rap routine? Because it was REALLY lame. Why are you potentially embarrassed by your financial life? Because it might be REALLY lame. Who cares? Lame is just…lame. Lame isn’t dangerous…yet. You see, when you let something get out of control, it goes from lame to a problem. Are you willing to ruin your financial life in lieu of the initial embarrassment that comes with seeking help? I hope not.
So what’s it gonna be for you? Are you going to buck up and face temporary embarrassment and get the help you truly need? Or are you going to spare your feelings and dig an even deeper hole?
If you need help, ask for help. You must have trust in the people you are asking to help you. If they are professional, then they won’t judge you, they will help you. That unsavory rash that you have in an uncomfortable area doesn’t elicit your physicians’ judgement. The doctor is simply trying to fix your problem. The same goes for your financial life. Get help. No one is going to giggle at your financial rash. But they may laugh at my pep session rapping. I’m so embarrassed.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.