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What is Embarrassment?

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Embarrassment is an instant feeling of regret or uneasiness about an action or utterance one has just made. Typically embarrassment occurs more easily in front of crowds which is escalated when said crowds are familiar to us. This suggests that we feel embarrassed to show us what is wrong or outside of our comfort zone. Whilst it is our peers and society that we use to keep ourselves in check in a kind of feedback loop, the eyes of those who watch us, sometimes even ourselves, become then the vision of judgment we constantly are under. Feeling embarrassed does not always mean that someone has done something wrong but rather that it’s outside of what they would expect of themselves e.g. there is nothing wrong in public speaking and yet some people would feel incredibly embarrassed at the prospect of doing so.

When is it Shame or Embarrassment?

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Shame is different to embarrassment in that it has a deeper and usually more long term impact upon the mind. Although the feeling of embarrassment can usually be just as long as the experience itself, shame can carry on long after what is said or done. Shame is what we experience when we evaluate something we have done to be wrong, whereas embarrassment is usually what happens when we see ourselves as doing something badly. In other words embarrassment is when our image of ourselves is put into question in a negative way, whereas shame is when our image of ourselves is seen as when we are bad, doing things such as betrayal, abuse or taking advantage of someone.  

How to Get Over Embarrassment:

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There is a clear distinction between shame and embarrassment and, as such, living a life without shame can be seen as a great thing, whereas living without embarrassment can seem sheltered or closed. Everyday we, and those around us, tell ourselves who we are and what we are capable of. When we step outside this path, the feeling of embarrassment we receive might mean we never try something different again. The reality is however that most things that are worth achieving live outside our comfort bubbles. Getting embarrassed is usually a sign of growth because it shows that someone is willing to challenge their own status quo. Humans who manage to repeatedly put themselves in uncomfortable positions, but in positions they desire to be in, will eventually learn to embrace their embarrassment. The jittery feelings that we get might never go away, but we can come to see them as a sign of growth rather than something to avoid at all costs. 

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