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

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.

How to Begin Healing Your Body Shame

When did your body shame start?

The Secret of Steven Blush’s Success

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on April 20, 2016 in Brick by Brick
It starts with deconstructing the definition of 'rock star.'

Peter Breggin on the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Complex

The future of mental health interview series continues with Peter Breggin on the psycho-pharmaceutical complex.

Alcoholism and Shame

Throughout my personal and professional experiences working with active and sober alcoholics I have noted a theme: shame.

Do You Love Your Body?

Poor relationships with food, our bodies, and ourselves tend to develop from a perfect storm of events and feelings.

If Donald Trump Is a Narcissist…

Finally, like other pundits making silly if not stupid pronouncements of how things will play out, I plead, "No contest."

Shame and the Pendulum of Blame

Often, our targets of blame are determined primarily by our states of mind rather than any objective reality.
Deviant Art image by machihuahua

Have You Been Falsely Accused?

Being falsely accused is a painful emotional experience. The pain and shame of not being seen as we really are creates deep heartache and frustration. How can we deal with this?

Why Novels About Infertility's Darkness Are Hitting a Nerve

By Monica N. Starkman M.D. on April 01, 2016 in On Call
Even if infertility is not currently a presence in one’s life, the fear of it often is. No wonder novels like The Girl On The Train resonate so strongly.

What Children of Narcissists Sometimes Do

As counterintuitive as it may feel in the narcissistic dynamic (especially with a parent), focus on the self is key to healing.

Can You Accept a Compliment?

The wish for a compliment may result in discomfort when you receive one.

Adult Justification of Child Humiliation and Mistreatment

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on March 20, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
Ignoring feelings and needs, derision, contempt: Should parents be excused if they treat their children this way? Psychotherapist Alice Miller used to think so, but changed.

Shame On You for Getting a Divorce!

“Imagine a world where empathy and support trump our old-fashioned concepts.”

7 Things People With Social Anxiety Do

If you or someone you know does these things, it could be a sign of social anxiety.

Sharing the News of Divorce

By Wendy Paris on March 15, 2016 in Splitopia
You might be reluctant to talk about your divorce, but doing so can help you feel connected and supported, and remind you that you are not alone in this awkward state.

Why Our Partners Embarrass Us

Have you ever felt embarrassed by your romantic partner? If so, it turns out you’re not alone. New studies have uncovered what researchers call the “vicarious spotlight effect."

Talc and Ovarian Cancer

By Paul Joannides Psy.D. on March 03, 2016 in As You Like It
Women's genitals are their own ecosystem. They form a transitional zone between the outside and inside of the body. Dusting them with talc is an attempt to smother them.

How Not to Worry About What Others Think of You

By Raj Raghunathan Ph.D. on March 03, 2016 in Sapient Nature
Most of us worry a little too much about what others think of us. Here are three practices that can help us overcome this tendency.