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

Sexual Freedom: Only Part of the Equation for LGBTQ Refugees

LGBTQ refugees continue to experience social isolation, perpetuating a sense of danger and persecution.

Intimate Relationships and Electronic Devices

Leaving a paper trail used to be thought of as potentially incriminating. What about an electronic one?
Geralt/Pixabay

Are You Addicted to Perfection?

We want to excel in our lives, but how can we differentiate the pursuit of excellence from a shame-driven desire for perfectionism?

Taming Blame and Shame

By Michael F. Kay on July 06, 2016 in Financial Life Focus
What could be more destructive to your financial success and happiness than wallowing in blame and shame?

Is Your Anger a Cover for Shame?

For many of us, we carry around secret feelings of shame for years. Something we did in our past — or something that was done to us — haunts us. Shame can be a major anger trigger.

The Orlando Shooter Doth Protest Too Much, Me Thinks

By Joye Swan Ph.D. on July 01, 2016 in Up Close and Personal
The Orlando shooter professed that he carried out the shootings in the name of ISIS but, might the choice of who he shot have had more to do with the shooter's own sexual identity?

The Origins of Our Emotional Life: Our Earliest Feelings

Our earliest nine inborn feelings—“primary affects”—are key to understanding human development and emotional life. What are they? How do they work?
© Donna Barstow All Rights Reserved

Oral Sex on the Menu

By Donna Barstow on June 30, 2016 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Don't worry about doing it "right." Just do it.

They Dream of School, and None of the Dreams Are Good

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on June 29, 2016 in Freedom to Learn
I don’t know why these particular dream themes are so common. How sad, though, that schooling, which is more or less required by law, produces a lifetime of bad dreams.

The "Rock Bottom" Myth and the Shame It Brings On

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on June 28, 2016 in All About Addiction
Mental health labels can help us understand our clients, but they can also make us completely miss who they are. Here is a cautionary tale of one girl's difficult road back.

Why Time-Outs Need a Time Out

In using time-outs parents unintentionally convey that they are unable to contain or tolerate their own feelings.

Dominance and Submission in the Corporate Jungle

Have you been publicly humiliated into compliance by a condescending boss in a nasty work environment? Welcome to dominance and submission in the corporate jungle. What do you do?

Terrorism, the Sociopath, and Shame

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on June 17, 2016 in Shame
A bully and a domestic abuser, Omar Mateen was likely driven by a personal sense of core shame, confused with the perceived humiliation of Muslims at the hands of the West.
Pixabay image by Johnhain

Can Shame Be Your Friend?

Shame is often destructive and toxic. But can shame have a healthy aspect? This article explores how a light, friendly sense of shame can serve our lives and relationships.

When Parental Choices Have Fatal Consequences

Preventable illnesses among children lead to distress and shame in parents.

Porn vs. Religion

By David J Ley Ph.D. on June 08, 2016 in Women Who Stray
People are struggling over porn use—but their problems are consistently related to a conflict between their religious values and their sexual behaviors, not to porn itself.

Religious Disapproval of Porn

By Temma Ehrenfeld on June 07, 2016 in Open Gently
Using porn more than once a week seems tied to shame.

A Letter to Therapists 2: Finance Language Lessons

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on June 06, 2016 in In Therapy
“If you knew my income, my debt, my bad decisions, my cover-ups, you definitely wouldn’t like me.”

The Marriage Narrative: Will We Look Back in Shame?

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on May 23, 2016 in Living Single
Social scientists and journalists are perpetuating a misleading narrative about the superiority of people who get married. Years from now, will we look back in shame?
Photo: iStock

The Narcissistic Parent

Narcissistic parents - in this case a mother - can hurt children in many ways. It's a type of abuse that requires a special kind of healing.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Tuesday May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia. Check out these 4 mindfulness tips!

Female, Over 50, and Over-qualified

Is the continued under-employment of professional women in a post-recession job market discriminatory, or an instance of institutionalized bullying?

The Most Embarrassing Moments When You're Big

By Temma Ehrenfeld on May 06, 2016 in Open Gently
Laughing at the embarrassing moments of obesity can help.

Promposals: The Darkness Beneath the Cheer

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on May 06, 2016 in Living Single
Promposals are not just fun and games. Value systems and feelings of shame are also in play.

How to Avoid Shaming Your Child

If these interactions are repeated throughout childhood, the shame can become toxic; the beginning of a fear of being defective that can shadow us through life.

No Stigma, No Shame: Breaking the Silence of Mental Illness

The stigma and shame of mental illness is compounded by the lack of access to mental health care. May is Mental Health Awareness Month - a time to talk about mental health.

How Children Develop Toxic Shame

If we aren't aware of our own tendencies to shame, we won't notice when they get triggered. We'll just act them out onto our children, passing shame down to the next generation.

HB2 as Cultural Narrative

What must it be like to have 'dread'—and perhaps even 'shame' and 'inadequacy'—coded into brain circuitry linked to the urge to use a bathroom?

Hinda the Hypocrite

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 23, 2016 in How To Do Life
We're often made to feel guilt and shame by people who don't walk their talk.