Thoughts on Embarrassment

Journal 2005

As I approached a group of friends gathered around my kitchen table, I tripped and fell to my knees. Red-faced, I gathered my dignity and tried to laugh it off. But why should I feel embarrassed, I thought?

When I’m embarrassed, I tend to hide behind a mask, cover with a nervous laugh, or pretend I don’t care.

Embarrassment is often rooted in pride: What are they thinking of me?

Embarrassment may be a result of feeling exposed and vulnerable. This is especially true for someone who’s molested.

Embarrassment can also carry shame messages: I am less than, I am clumsy, I can’t do anything right.

Can I be embarrassed FOR someone else? For example, if I watch someone who is ignorant of cultural mores, I may assume they’re feeling (or should be feeling) embarrassment for their actions. In realty, what I feel is a reflection of my own embarrassment: If I were in their shoes, I’d feel embarrassed.

I decided my reaction to my stumbling foot was a simple case of pride and let it go. My friends were more than solicitous.

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