Why Do We Get Embarrassed? How to Deal With It?

Written by: Tanvi Vinay Gangavali – MA (Psychology)

Last updated date : April 18, 2022

Embarrassment is an important feeling. It is painful. The question is- Why do we get embarrassed? What is the reason for embarrassment? The answer is, embarrassment teaches is like internal feedback so that we learn not to repeat our errors. There are times when we have a fall or have slip of the tongue. There are many reasons why we do something in a social setting and feel embarrassed. Embarrassment is a social and self-conscious emotion. It is also complex. Our feeling depends on our perception of the situation. We need to feel why we feel embarrassed and try to understand it.

Chapter 1:

What Is Embarrassment?

When we feel embarrassed many physical changes take place. Such as blushing, sweating or stammering. Many situations make us feel embarrassed. We want to escape from these situations. We also feel terrible about ourselves. But, if you feel embarrassed many times and feel this way most of the time in a social setting then you need to think about what makes you feel this way.

What is the reason for embarrassment? Every person’s perception of the situation is different. It can be either positive, negative or neutral. The same situation will also have different reactions. The emotions felt are also different. For example, if someone calls a person beautiful or handsome in front of a group of people at a party may feel highly embarrassed but will be comfortable if they forget someone’s name or even slip and fall. Many times a person might feel embarrassed for oneself or even for others. They feel embarrassed on behalf of others because they are too emotional or if the other person’s failure will have an effect on them directly or indirectly. So, feeling embarrassed is an individual experience. It is intensified by the fear that everyone is watching or judging. But in reality, no one will notice it.


Chapter 2:

Do We All Feel Embarrassed?

Shame and guilt are also part of the embarrassment feeling. This can also hurt the person’s thoughts or behaviour. The person experiencing embarrassment becomes very alert. They also become conscious of either a real or imagined failure to meet the social standards. This also makes them fear social situations. We feel awkward in such situations. We regret our actions. Shame and guilt are also common.

Human beings are social beings. We all feel emotions. We all have at some point in our life felt awkward. So, the answer is ‘Yes’. We all feel embarrassed. The reason for embarrassment might vary. But the most important question is- How does it affect them? Some people feel embarrassed but are okay with it. Whereas some may have fear and might not want to be social because they feel guilty.


Chapter 3:

Do Some People Feel More Embarrassed than Others?

The answer is Yes. Every situation experienced by any individual has its reaction. The intensity of the feeling will vary from person to person. People who have social anxiety, feel a lot of distress in social settings. They are also more sensitive to embarrassment. They usually do not want social interactions. But if they are forced to interact they feel embarrassed. They always feel they might make mistakes in social situations or do things that will embarrass themselves. But, the best part is that help is available. Gradual exposure to social settings helps them feel comfortable.


Chapter 4:

Do We Feel Strong If We Experience Embarrassing Moments Constantly?

There is no fixed answer to this. It is not that people become stronger after facing embarrassment frequently. But, there is a flip side to this. People who feel embarrassed especially after doing something wrong or bad such as knocking down a store display unit. They are viewed as perceived to be more likeable than others.


Chapter 5:

How to Overcome Feelings of Embarrassment?

We have our ways to deal with certain emotions which are not helping us. Many of us tend to bounce back from an embarrassing incident faster than others. Others who are more sensitive or emotional may have other emotions. Many people might feel anxious or restless whenever they think about situations that made them feel embarrassed. They might also constantly think about the situation over and over again. They also tend to avoid those or similar kinds of situations just to escape the fear of being humiliated. But, one embarrassing incident can have an impact on an individual’s life and also emotions. It can impact the confidence and self-worth of the person. It can also have extreme repercussions such as leading to anxiety, depression or even extreme such as self-harm.

Sometimes the best way to get over embarrassment is to laugh about it. Many people who laugh over an embarrassing incident are viewed as trustworthy, likeable and also sociable. The bottom line is that everyone makes mistakes and it is okay.


Chapter 6:

How Can I Get over an Embarrassing Experience?

Getting over embarrassment can be difficult and also tricky. We need to recognise that we are not alone. Everyone feels embarrassed and humiliated at some point. Many people have had these experiences and each one responds differently. We can learn how they have responded to it. We can also talk about it with our friends or family members. It might be difficult to change your response initially. But with practice, it can be done. We might want to escape the situation or even want to lash out. But we need to pause and not give in to our temptation of acting in these ways. We can also try to view the incident in a different light. It can also be looked at as a learning experience that helps build resilience.


Chapter 7:

How Do I Not Worry about What Others Think About Me?

We usually feel embarrassed when we are more worried about what others think about us. Constantly thinking about how others would view us creates more stress. Also, how others view us is beyond our control. One way to feel better is not to be too hard on oneself. Trying to be kind and gentle towards oneself. Also, thinking positive and looking at the positive side of the situation helps feel better.


Chapter 8:

The Bottom Line

What is the reason for embarrassment? The reasons are many. We all feel embarrassed. We need to learn ways of how to deal with it and not get affected by it. To know more about how to deal with embarrassment, you can enrol for a course on the epysch website.