Understanding Embarrassment

Embarrassment is a painful but important emotion. It makes us feel bad about our mistakes so that we don't repeat them, and one of its side effects—blushing—signals to others that we recognize our error and are not cold-hearted or oblivious. Shame, a related emotion, can be felt even when no one knows about a slip-up. Guilt tends to focus on what one has done, rather than who one is.

Recent posts on Embarrassment

Feeling Awkward? 12 Reassuring Lessons from Science

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on February 21, 2018 in Living Single
Author Melissa Dahl wanted to rid herself of awkward feelings. She discovered that she was thinking about cringeworthy experiences in all the wrong ways.
George Hodan, public domain

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Our mother is how we know ourselves and our world. With a narcissistic mother, we never feel good enough and like her bond with unavailable or abusive partners.

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous: Does It Make Sense?

By Emily T. Troscianko on February 17, 2018 in A Hunger Artist
I analyze the ABA literature to explore whether or not the translation from alcohol addiction to eating disorders results in coherent and constructive principles and practices.

Mental Illness and Shame

Why are America's streets filled with the homeless, instead of its attics?

I Am Woman, Hear Me Crunch

By Renee Engeln Ph.D. on February 09, 2018 in Beauty Sick
We don’t need quieter junk food. We need a complete revision of our relationships with food and our bodies.

Dogs and Guilt: We Simply Don't Know

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 09, 2018 in Animal Emotions
An widely-circulated essay misleads readers to think dogs don't feel guilt. While we may not accurately read their guilt, we don't know what they feel.

The 2 Factors Which Give Shame Its Great Power

By Grant Hilary Brenner M.D. on February 01, 2018 in ExperiMentations
We avoid shameful feelings and their consequences at our peril. New research spells out how shame affects psychological health and social relationships in illness.
Stockfresh, used with permission

How Secrets and Lies Destroy Relationships

Lies and secrets damage us and our relationships. People worry about the risk of being honest, without considering the risks of dishonesty. Trust once broken is hard to repair.

Humility or Humiliation in Aging, It’s Your Choice

By Mario D Garrett Ph.D. on January 27, 2018 in iAge
With humility someone has a dark sense of humor, and I hope that I live long enough to learn to appreciate it.

Building Self-Esteem and Improving Relationships

By Dianne Grande Ph.D. on January 26, 2018 in In It Together
Are you often feeling criticized by someone? Communication affects self-esteem.

#Metoo-ocracy and the Democratization of Social Justice

I began to wonder about victims who might be missing from the conversation—"collaborators" for whom “#metoo” meant “I closed my eyes and made my mind go blank."

Forbidden Words: Sexual Health

Talking about about sexual health without people projecting their fears and shame onto it.
New York Daily News

The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle: Children, Pain, and Shame

By Paula L. White M.A. on January 10, 2018 in Shape Parenting
Worried about the impact of negative stereotypes on your child? These three concrete strategies can help.
Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

Does Your Hearing Loss Ever Make You Want to Scream?

By Shari Eberts on January 09, 2018 in Life With Hearing Loss
Does your hearing loss ever make you so frustrated you could just scream? Try these tips to help you survive these inevitable bouts of vexation.

How Stigma Kills Doctors

Stigma is driving suicide in some doctors. Fortunately, courageous stories of doctors living with psychiatric illness are unlocking the shame.

Soul Sadness

By Tara Brach Ph.D. on January 08, 2018 in Finding True Refuge
Our soul sadness is fully revealed when we directly and mindfully contact our pain. In such moments, we discover a natural upwelling of compassion and tenderness for our own heart.

Unspoken Legacy

By The Book Brigade on January 04, 2018 in The Author Speaks
Addiction affects the whole family, and it often has multi-generational roots that go unrecognized and unaddressed, even by therapists.

A Warning Sign That He May Not Be the Best Lover

By Donna Barstow on December 31, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
He's giving you clues even before the first kiss.

9 Tips for Awkward Silences in Therapy

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on December 29, 2017 in In Therapy
All the good stuff has already been covered (or so it seems). Where should you go from here? What should you talk about in therapy? Awkward.

Revenge vs. Rehabilitation

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on December 18, 2017 in Shame
Is the "name and shame" campaign purely about exacting revenge against sexual harassers?
Quick and Dirty Tips

Embracing Masculine Vulnerability: A Q&A with Lewis Howes

By Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. on December 15, 2017 in How to Be Yourself
Why men have trouble letting themselves be vulnerable, and why it is so important that they try.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Receive Graciously

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on December 10, 2017 in Life, Refracted
Childhood experiences with our caregivers and feelings of guilt, embarrassment, fear, and disappointment can influence the ways in which we receive others' expressions of love.

Accept Your Self-Doubt To Diminish Your Anger

How often is your anger a go-to reaction to discomfort with underlying self-doubt? Distinguish between destructive and positive self-doubt to help you curtail anger arousal.

Loneliness Is a Killer. Why Don't We Talk About It?

By Loren A. Olson M.D. on December 08, 2017 in Finally Out
We don't talk about loneliness because of a stigma: It feels like a failure in one of life's fundamental domains. But it is essential for our health that we talk about it.

Kids, Would You Please Lower Your Weapons?

With authoritarians on both the Right and the Left dominating political discourse, it's tough (and sometimes unsafe) for the sensible center to get a word in edgewise.


By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 03, 2017 in Ambigamy
Fear of coming across as a jerk keeps many, but not all men in line.

Why the Embarrassment?

Too busy fixating on your "flaws" this holiday season?

18 Key Ingredients of a Happy Life

By John Kim, LMFT on November 30, 2017 in The Angry Therapist
These are some important life questions to think about.

How Do I Ask My Grandma to Stop Being So Techy?

Using social media to connect across generations sounds like a good thing, but how do we respond when our good intentions cause embarrassment to our youth?
Santeri Viinamaki/wikimedia commons

Love, Sex, and Romance with Different Abilities

By Elizabeth Young on November 27, 2017 in Adaptations
Hal says, "When you’ve got intimacy, and you add touching, you’ve got really good sex.”